Aviation legend and entrepreneur, Mike Kendrick, has thrown his weight behind a campaign to save 410 acres of greenbelt land at Stanmore in Bridgnorth from development. Speaking at a packed public meeting at the Castle Hall on 13th June, Mike urged Bridgnorth residents to speak up, telling them that people power was the biggest chance they had of defeating Shropshire Council’s plans. “Public opinion can move mountains” he said, “and it’s the one thing politicians are scared of”.
Mike, a British Airship and Ballooning pioneer, told the Shropshire Star, “To run balloons and airships, you’ve got to have a determination to succeed, I know all about innovation, pushing the envelope, and taking risks. As we’ve explained tonight, Shropshire Council’s plans meet none of those criteria, instead they are reckless, irresponsible and economically unjustifiable. We’re in real danger of Bridgnorth becoming a white elephant, and destroying its most marketable asset, its setting, if the council’s grandiose schemes are not reined in”.
The 73-year-old, who has lived in Stanmore for over forty years, was brought up on a council estate in Wolverhampton. He was recently inducted into the prestigious Aviation Hall of Fame alongside the likes of Buzz Aldrin, Tom Cruise, and John Travolta. He was nominated for the award by long-time friend and former business partner Sir Richard Branson, following a lifetime in the balloon and airship industry.
Mike’s career started in the 1970s when he revolutionised the aerial advertising industry, and in 1988 he formed the famous Virgin Airship and Balloon Company with Sir Richard Branson, in Telford. He is now spearheading work with his company, Straightline Aviation, on the introduction of a revolutionary heavy-lift hybrid airship designed to transport cargo and passengers to remote parts of the world and engineered to use less fuel, emit less carbon dioxide and eliminate the need for costly ground-level infrastructure.
The firm, based at Stanmore, has attracted attention from the oil, gas and mining industries but Mike is most excited about the ships’ humanitarian potential. “We intend to use our new aircraft for the good of all communities, particularly in remote places for those in need of help” he said. Mike added, “I’m just an ordinary bloke, and I hope my story demonstrates that I’m all for growth and progress. I’ve had some amazing successes, but I’ve also had some humbling failures. Success is partly about luck, but it’s mainly about having the right plan. Shropshire Council’s ambitions for Stanmore are the wrong plan for Bridgnorth”.
Sheila Edwards, Chairwoman of Save Bridgnorth Greenbelt said she was “bowled over” by the attendance at the meeting and heartened by residents’ support for their campaign. She said, “Mike is such an asset to the group, we’re over the moon he’s joined us. Mike’s marketing and PR expertise is already proving invaluable and he will be instrumental in steering our public awareness campaign, as go up a gear over the summer. Mike was the Project Director for all of Sir Richards record breaking balloon flight and has held several world records. So he knows how to make the seemingly impossible possible”.
Mike added “It’s all hands on deck now, if we’re going to stop this ludicrous plan for Bridgnorth, we need people to get involved. We are not against sustainable growth but expansion on this scale is unhealthy. It will block the roads, overwhelm schools, overload car parks and damage our historic town”.