Dear Secrets of Radar Supporter,
Nearly 20 years ago, I met a force of nature by the name of Fred Bates. We became fast friends, and shortly after, Fred became my constant companion on one of the great adventures of my life.
Fred and his wife Jan, were both WWII radar veterans, and two of my fellow co-founders of the Secrets of Radar Museum. If you’ve ever met Fred, well, you know that it was nearly impossible to say no to Fred. In the early days of the museum, it was his tenacity and sheer stubborn determination to get our little museum up and going that allowed us to open the doors.
Nothing—absolutely nothing—was allowed to get in our way. We took an old lab building behind Parkwood Hospital that once was a rehabilitation centre for veterans and turned it into a working, functional museum. We had to roll up our sleeves and work as hard as we could to bring to life the vision Fred had given us. Jan would scrub floors, and I would scrub the walls and ceilings to make it presentable. Others would paint and drywall, or any other of the hundreds of jobs we needed done. Together, our team of volunteers from every walk of life made the building not just a museum, but a home for those who served their country in its time of need.
Fred was a constant presence, pushing us forward in a rush to get the displays on the walls. He was forever worried that he and his fellow veterans would not live to see the opening of the museum.
We were, in a word, unstoppable.
I still remember opening day—Fred, beaming, cutting the ribbon, surrounded by a dozen other radar veterans.
When we opened our doors to the public that day for the first time, we ran on a budget of $6000, all of which had been donated by a group of our veterans. Eventually, we grew that budget to 10 times that size through much dedication, hard work and constant fundraising. Secrets of Radar was built on sheer determination and grit.
If you came to Doors Open in those early years, you probably still can remember Fred tucked into the corner of the room, sitting on his bright green walker, surrounded by dozens of visitors. Each and every one of them were drawn into his many stories of his wartime exploits. Anytime I miss my friend, I think back to those moments, and his wild stories, and it brings a huge smile to my face.
Today, many of our veterans have passed on, as have Jan and Fred. Their spirit, determination, and incredible stories are still alive and breathing thanks to the museum. Together, we have taken their hidden story, and revealed it to world after six decades of silence.
This year, as Remembrance Day quickly approaches, the voices of our veterans are in danger of being silenced again, as funding has been very tight in recent months. My friends, the museum needs our help, and I don’t want to let Fred and Jan down at this time of need.
I am personally asking you to join me in providing a donation to the museum, to help keep Jan and Fred’s dream alive and well. Our veterans have given so much to us—let us do the same for them, and their memory by donating to Secrets of Radar.