Two charities are set to benefit from money raised by a BAE Systems engineer who came up with the idea of producing special coins to mark the development of the next generation of submarines.
Earlier this year James Bird designed a challenge coin depicting the Dreadnought submarine, the new class of submarine now under construction at BAE Systems’ site in Barrow. Historically, challenge coins were produced and awarded to service personnel in recognition of their efforts in a particular campaign, but more recently their production has been linked to charitable fundraising.
So far James has sold more than 1,500 Dreadnought coins along with 200 minted in the name of the second Dreadnought submarine, Valiant. He will soon be making the first donation of around £8,000 to the chosen charities for the first coin, We Remember Submariners and Help for Heroes.
James said: “Challenge coins are popular in the US, where they are sold to raise funds for the armed forces, so it was suggested we commission a series of coins to feature each of the four Dreadnought class crests.
We’ve had interest from around the world and I’m delighted worthwhile causes will benefit.
“We initially expected to sell a few hundred coins at most, but the response has exceeded all expectations, allowing us to raise a phenomenal amount for the charities we are supporting.”
Funds raised by the Valiant coin will be split between Hospital Equipment Fund for Furness (HEFF), £1,500 bursary fund for Barrow Sea Cadets, and the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity.
The coins for Dreadnought boats 3 and 4, Warspite and King George VI, will be released over the coming year.