Throughout the development process of our current feature film project, A SHAMROCK AT MY SIDE, we’ve been adamant about keeping as faithful to the true story of Wing Commander Brendan “Paddy” Finucane as possible.
And so, on the last Saturday of April, we made a journey of over 133 miles, from the West Midlands to RAF Hornchurch Heritage Centre in East London, the former airfield where Brendan took his final posting as Wing Commander, and where there is an amazing collection of artefacts related to his life.
Waiting to meet us there was John Donovan, the official Finucane family historian and real goldmine of information on the life of Brendan, as well as other experts on the RAF during WW2.
After a very warm welcome, John and Tony Philpot, chairman of the centre, showed us around the museum.
John then took us to a small room filled with various other artefacts related to Brendan, many of which have not seen the light of day for many years. These included newspaper clippings, letters and photos. A literal treasure trove buried away.
The intimacy of these artefacts made this the highlight of the day, as just holding some of these items really made us feel as though we were forging a stronger connection to the man himself.
As we took a walk around the former airfield, parts of which are now a park, John mentioned that the area we were walking on had been described by one historian as “hallowed ground”, and a more apt description is hard to find.
It was also wonderful to have the chance to finally meet Brendan’s nephew, also called Brendan, and his wife Fiona. Brendan is the vice president of Hornchurch Aerodrome Historical Trust and getting his blessing on this project was so important to us when starting out.
A very big thank you to all at RAF Hornchurch Heritage Centre for their generosity, hospitality and enthusiasm.
The next few weeks will continue to be very busy as we nail down the final details and gear up to finally start the cameras rolling on A SHAMROCK AT MY SIDE.