TOUCHING tributes have been paid to a “friendly and welcoming” volunteer who spent decades supporting the restoration of a RAF bomber plane.

Tom Weeks, from Ashingdon, volunteered with the Vulcan Restoration Trust and became a well-respected and familiar face at Vulcan open days at Southend Airport. 

Mr Weeks joined the team in 2003 and was passionate about making sure the site was looking top notch for visitors and aviation enthusiasts.

Trust secretary Richard Clarkson said: “He was so well-known and loved. He was a great guy behind the scenes who helped a huge deal.

“He would help setting up events and his big thing was grass cutting and was really happy to do that and he knew it had to be done.

“He met and greeted everyone when they arrived for events and things like that.

He would say hello to everyone.

“He was friendly and welcoming and was a real people person. Arsenal FC was a great love of his and he’s been with us since 2003.

“He will be greatly missed and I am not surprised to see and hear the outpouring of emotion online.

“It’s rare and difficult to find people who are happy to get on with the little things like he did.”

The Avro Vulcan XL426 was flown to London Southend Airport in 1986 to be preserved as part of the UK’s aviation heritage.

It has since proved to be a very popular attraction at the airport and has been visited by thousands of people over the years.

A trust spokesman said: “Tom was a regular volunteer on the ‘old pan’ during the mid-2000s and helped out at every Vulcan Trust visit day right up until last summer.

“Tom was infamously known for his grass strimming antics around the old pan before we moved to hangars 5-6 in 2017.

“He also ingeniously created ‘Tom’s stick’ for speeding up the process of accurately distancing the fencing blocks for event setup which we still use.

“We know he will be fondly remembered by all his friends and colleagues within the trust and our deepest sympathies go to Tom’s family at this really sad time.”