The Royal Air Force will be celebrating its 100th birthday on 1st April 2018. Celebrations will be marked by special events designed to commemorate, celebrate and inspire, highlighting events from the past and looking forward to the next 100 years.
In search of the perfect mascot to raise funds and awareness of the centenary, Squadron Leader Stu Phillips head of the special projects team, contacted Britain’s leading teddy bear designer founder of The Great British Teddy Bear Company, Paul Jessup.
After extensive research studying original air force uniforms; Paul hand created a standing fully jointed version of his famous Great British Teddy Bear from a specially made plush fabric, the fabric is folded and rolled between steam-heated drums in alternate directions to create vintage curled pile given the bear a traditional loved effect. The bear is wearing an authentic WW2 miniature brown leatherette, Irvin flight jacket with a working waist belt and buckle. The Jacket has been expertly lined with a contrasting faux fur fabric and is worn above an air force blue shirt and tie. His matching flight helmet has been designed with ear holes so that it fits perfectly on the teddy bears head, he even has a pair of flight goggles. ‘The detail and quality of each of the fabrics are essential to the design, the uniform must be authentic in every regard to satisfy the RAF requirements, this is a unique bear representing 100 years of service.’ said Paul Jessup.
When deciding on a name for the official RAF 100 centenary teddy bear the RAF settled on ‘Hugh’ naming their bear in recognition of General Hugh Trenchard the first Chief of the Air Staff of the Royal Air Force.
The RAF created a Facebook page for @Hughtheflyingbear to follow Hugh as he travelled through the USA with the RAF, flying on as many service aircraft as can be arranged to celebrate the USAF 70th Anniversary and the RAF Centenary. With an official Aircrew Flying Log Book to record his exploits, Hugh will eventually become a historical artefact and will be donated to the RAF Museum in the UK.
Hugh’s journey will also be recorded through participation thanks to an idea from designer Paul Jessup; ‘each air force base has their own unique embroidered patch, Hugh is only 36cm tall, so his jacket is not big enough to wear over 200 patches, so I designed a replica military kit bag in authentic heavyweight khaki cotton. This keeps Hugh clean as he travels, and every base will sew on their own patch to record his journey before he lands at the RAF Museum in London. It is an honour and a privilege to create this commemorative artefact.’ said Paul Jessup