SOME of the world's most influential and richest men have joined the campaign to save a much-loved national treasure in Stanmore.
The Observer can exclusively reveal powerful figures including Formula One maestro Bernie Ecclestone and former Harrow schoolboy and chairman of diamond company the De Beers Group, Nicholas Oppenheimer, are among those battling to save RAF Bentley Priory, in Stanmore Hill, Stanmore.
They are just two of the founder members of The Bentley Priory Battle of Britain Trust, which wants the priory to be kept as a permanent memorial to Royal Air Force fighters who fought in the Battle of Britain.
The building is one of a number of Ministry of Defence-owned properties likely to be sold off this year. A final decision will be made in July.
Mr Ecclestone said: "I well remember the phrase, 'Trafalgar saved the Nation, but the Battle of Britain saved the world.'
"To me, the names 'Bentley Priory' and 'The Battle of Britain' are linked forever, and to allow the priory - this priceless piece of our country's heritage - to be sold off to a developer is unthinkable."
The priory was the nerve centre of the Battle of Britain and Lord Hugh Dowding, of the RAF's Fighter Command directed operations against the enemy Luftwaffe from there.
Others who have heeded his message include chairman of The Air League, Tony Edwards; owner of Scotia Prince Cruises, Matthew Hudson; Conservative Peer, Lord Astor of Hever; Wilfred Mole, managing director of Nokia (South Africa) and Max Mosley, president of Federation Internationale de l'Automobile.
Trust founder Alan Curtis OBE said: "I have known all of them for a few years.
"I told them we needed support and once they knew the story of Bentley Priory, they immediately got on board. We cannot have this land sold off to private developers."
He added that every single person, apart from Nicholas Oppenheimer, had visited the priory, and all of them had fallen in love with it.