THE Southend airshow’s mascot has finally been named. The official Southend Airshow and Military Festival Bear is to be called Gibson in tribute to Dam Busters’ 617 Squadron Wing Commander Guy Penrose Gibson.
Designed and produced by sponsor Teddy Station, in Southend the official bear sports a flying helmet with brown replica goggles, a brown leatherette jacket with a sheepskin collar and khaki shorts.
He was named following a competition held in conjunction with the Echo and Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome.
The winning name was selected by Marian Outram, from Chaul End in Caddington, Bedfordshire. She will receive her own Gibson bear and a tour of the aerodrome and a flight in a Tiger Moth!
She said: “I am so surprised that the name wasn't chosen by a great many people. It just seemed so appropriate - especially with the 70th anniversary of the Dambusters.
“My first idea was Biggles, but that was far too obvious. There had been a program on TV and it had mentioned the dambusters and Guy Gibson, and it just seemed so obvious a choice.“
Organisers, Thomas Curtis and John Delaney had a tough time picking the winner.
Mr Curtis said: “As a new dad I know that picking a name is tough, we were amazed at the number of fantastic entries we received from the community and we wanted to take our time to find that was just right.
“Gibson is a fantastic name, Marian has chosen a name that is both original and a fitting tribute to one of the great Squadrons of the Royal Air Force.”
Mr Delaney added: “We had hundreds and hundreds of entries for the competition with lots of fantastic suggestions but in the end Gibson stood out and also seemed the most fitting especially as we choose the winner on the last day 617 Squadron flew before the RAF disband the famous Dambusters Squadron.
The regular summer airshow was scrapped last year when Southend Council withdrew its funding, but it is hoped it will be revived for September this year.
Last month the Echo reported the organisers need to raise £70,000 by March to ensure the show goes ahead. A donation page is available online via the Bmycharity website and is available at www.bmycharity.com/charities/Southend Airshow