Today sees my father-in-law turn 70 years old. To celebrate a surprise get together was organised over the weekend for family and friends. This mainly involved eating record breaking quantities of sandwiches and cake!
My husband said a few words to mark the occasion. Using photographs to accompany his speech, he told a story that began way back in 1943.
My father-in-law shares his 70th birthday year with Mick Jagger, Robert de Niro and John Nettles – all very similar! In 1943 petrol cost 2½p per litre, a loaf of bread was 3½p and a pint of beer 5p.
In 1961 he joined the RAF. Having completed his training, his first posting was to Cyprus. He soon bought his pride and joy an Austin Healy Sprite 1100. As well as posing with his new car, he showed off his sporting prowess and hosted a radio show.
It was in Cyprus in 1963 that he met his shy and retiring wife! After a whirlwind romance, they got married in 1967.
In March the following year, my husband arrived while his Dad was on HMS Eagle. A tour which saw the first of a number of firsts in the Air Force. He was in the first group of RAF Aircrew to fly the Buccaneer on loan to the Navy. HMS Eagle’s role was an important one as an aircraft carrier patrolling the World seas during the Cold War.
It also provided those on board with a good excuse to dress up, grow facial hair and eat cat with chips in Karachi!
During his time with the Navy he was one of the first to participate in the bombing of the Torrey Canyon Supertanker than ran aground off the Scilly Isles in 1967. Back in the UK, with a new family came responsibilities and sacrifice. The sports car giving way to a Ford Anglia Estate.
In 1970, on my husband’s birthday, my sister-in-law was born. Then came a decade of more dubious facial hair – and strange fashion choices.
Another first came in 1982 when my father-in-law became the first Navigator OC Taceval at Ramstein, before returning to the UK and being awarded the Air Force Cross which was presented by the Queen at Buckingham Palace. In 1983 another first saw him take command of XV Squadron the first Tornado Squadron in RAF Germany.
His real claim to fame came in 1984 when he featured on the back of Warlord Comic “Quiet Cool and Comfortable” was how he described the Tornado. In 1991 he had tea with the then Prime Minister John Major as a personal thank you for his work at the MOD during the Gulf War.
In 1999 he took on a new and exciting role as Grandad – a second Grandson arrived in 2001. On Christmas Day 2010 he became a Grandad once again when POD was born.
She’s already looking forward to hearing him; say it twice (I had to say it twice!), being told to stop acting the giddy goat, no horseplay in the sitting room and everyone’s favourite – no elbows on the table!
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