A talented drama student from Skegness has followed in her grandfather’s historic footsteps during a spectacular 70th anniversary Dambusters memorial held last week.
Sophia Bishell, 19, took part in a special performance last Thursday with The University of Lincoln School of Performing Arts in collaboration with the Royal Air Force and BBC Radio Lincolnshire to commemorate the daring World War Two raid.
The former Richmond School student also toured with the show around Lincolnshire for a week giving her an ‘unforgettable experience’ and a humbling insight into the famous 617 Squadron.
“I have learnt so much about the great skill, bravery, responsibility and the sorrow they had to bear with their routine back in the way,” she said.
“I shall never forget the experience I have had over the past few months to represent the incredible people of wartime Britain.”
The Dambusters projects represents the first collaboration of its kind to document the lives of the 617 Squadron based on their first hand accounts.
Sophia’s grandfather, Ron Bishell, also holds a close connection with the famous squadron, having once attended a special meeting with Wing Commander Guy Gibson, the Dambusters’ leader.
“Her grandfather and nanny are very proud of Sophia, it’s great that she had the chance to experience part of his history,” said her mother, Anna Bishell.
RAF Scampton’s special commemoration event was attended by two surviving crew members from the original squadron and featured a symbolic flypast of a Lancaster Bomber.
“When the planes came so close it was an incredible feeling and the Lancaster flying right above us looked magnificent and made us feel so proud of the 617 as we had learnt so much about their journey,” said Sophia.
Sophia and her fellow performers underwent two days of boot camp training with the RAF in preparation for the show, which she says was the most challenging thing she has ever experienced.
“We found it tough but no one gave up,” she said.
They also researched personal accounts of the squadron to develop their characters and give a convincing performance.
“The audiences have loved the performances and reviews have been fantastic,” said Sophia.
“I shall miss the cast so much once this is over - we have all become great friends and worked as a team throughout.
“In addition, it has been an honour to have worked with Conan Lawrence, Howard Leader and Emma Rogers, the leaders of this project, who have been enthusiastic and inspirational.
“I am highly grateful for this rare opportunity we have been given.”
Sophia returns to Skegness from the University of Lincoln on Monday for the summer before resuming her studies next academic year.