Coachlines - February 2024

28.02.24 Steward Neil Sheath

Meet the Team – Steward Neil Sheath and the Aerospace Awards Sub-Committee

To start off, a little about me and where I came from, writes Steward Neil Sheath.

I joined the Royal Air Force back in 1981, attending the RAF College at Cranwell straight from school and onwards to pilot training, eventually becoming operational flying the maritime patrol Nimrod MR2 during the latter end of the cold war. My time serving included tours of duty at RAF Kinloss, Northwood Headquarters in London, the first Gulf War, back to fly Nimrods and then on to become a flying instructor before retiring from the RAF in 2002.

Since then, I flew and managed business jet and small airline aircraft interspersed with a little bit of turnaround interim management when I wished to spend time closer to home whilst my children were at high school. I retired a few years ago and now spend my time with several of the Livery Committees and playing with a couple of cars, these being my 1967 Triumph Mk3 Spitfire and my 1974 Triumph Stag. My dog prefers going out in the Stag.

I have been married to my first wife for more than 27 years and have two adult children, a son who plays rugby in the front row and is a policeman in Cambridgeshire and a daughter who is reading history at Norwich. My wife is Japanese and both children have not only been raised bilingually but more importantly they have been raised multiculturally, something I have been very particular about. They both read and write Japanese to basic business level.

I was invited to join the livery back in 2012 by Gerry Bunn who was a long standing friend and work colleague and who was aware of other long term charitable work of a similar vein to the Livery, which I had carried out continuously since my youth. I also sometimes invited Gerry to fly as my co-pilot if I happened to be going down to Nice or Monaco because his yacht in Menton was more relaxing and hospitable than a hotel.

Neil, The Livery and The Aerospace Awards Sub-Committee

When I was sworn in 2012 I soon joined the Aerospace Awards Sub-Committee at the invitation of Past Master Group Captain Marcus Wills CVO OBE, and remained part of the team ever since, whilst also joining the Charity Committee and more recently, in 2020, the Court as a Steward. I serve the Livery as part of all of these teams.

I assumed the reins of the Aerospace Awards Sub-Committee from Marcus in 2020. Since then we have been fortunate to grow and develop, not only with stalwarts of the Livery but also with Freemen who are previous recipients our awards and have since joined the Livery and our team, where they are very welcome and have made significant contributions.

Together we have developed the Aerospace Awards from being a few university awards which were targeted as supporting university fees, through a period of targeting welfare to now primarily supporting project work, which is unlikely to be funded elsewhere and which will enhance the worthy winner’s quality of achievement. This is already showing benefits as several of our recent alumni completed end of course project work which led directly to enhanced achievement and marks and greatly assisted in gaining work and developing their early careers. We have also added three engineering awards which sponsor young engineers in the aerospace industry through their licenced engineer examinations, something which they normally have to do from their own resources, and through fabrication skills enhancement courses supporting young engineers beyond their early careers where other support often tails off. We also sponsor one other award for a young person to learn to fly a vintage Tiger Moth biplane with the Cambridge Flying Group at Old Warden. This particular award supports young people in vintage engineering and operating skills.

As a member of the Aerospace Sub-Committee, the Charity Committee and the Court I am involved with, and proud of, the full pathway of support we as a Livery offer young people. This pathway includes the Saturday engineering outreach programmes, supporting the Arkwright Scholarship scheme where I am a mentor representing the Livery, through college courses in aviation studies, university awards at all three degree levels and importantly beyond early career support with the developing Livery mentorship programme.

The members of the aerospace team are also sub-committee members of the Charity Committee and are active in supporting most of the Charity Committee activities beyond our own committee work. We also keep in contact with many of our alumni and this pathway of support leads to young engineers we have supported, assisting our activities and also becoming freemen of the Livery.

The Aerospace Awards Sub-Committee is actively engaged with several international and UK companies to fund additional engineering awards to facilitate the Court’s 350+ aims to expand our offering of support to young people by our anniversary year.

You can see all the members of the Aerospace Sub-Committee on the Committees page on the Coachmakers website. Or find details of our awards and application processes here, or you can contact us by emailing

Please feel free to chat with any of us, we welcome your questions and support.