North East Connected

RAF veteran celebrates 100th birthday with a reunion with siblings

SIBLINGS celebrated in style as they reunited after decades for a landmark birthday.

Sir E D Walker Homes in Darlington staged a reunion to remember as one of its senior residents marked his 100th birthday.

RAF veteran John Sproat, who fought alongside the men of Field Marshal Montgomery in the Second World War’s North Africa campaign, greeted younger sister Mary, 95, and brother Jim, 85, who he hasn’t seen for many years.

Crowds of well-wishers packed the community hall for a special party organised by staff at Sir E D Walker Homes, featuring a special RAF cake and birthday card from the Queen.

“The whole party was such a lovely treat and it was an incredible surprise seeing Mary and Jimmy again,” said John, who is known as Jack.

Chairman of Sir E D Walker Homes and Sherwoods chairman Alasdair MacConachie said: “As Vice Lord Lieutenant and therefore the Queen’s representative I am delighted to be here to wish Jack a very happy 100th birthday.

“A resident for the past 20 years, he remains a very enthusiastic tenant and a popular soul who is very special to us.”

Born in Mount Oswald, Durham, and one of six siblings, Jack was called up to serve in the RAF when he was 23 enjoying a distinguished career in the motorised transport section.

“We had to drive well forward and spot the enemy craft then radio back their co-ordinates,” he recalled. “We worked closely with the army and saw a lot of action. I was one of the lucky ones.”

Jack spent the rest of his working career in the construction industry and before he retired was a maintenance man at Darlington’s Arts Centre.

Sir E D Walker Homes manager Jane Reed said: “He is amazing, very determined and house proud. He does his own ironing and hand-washing and still goes down the town. He is such a lovely man.”

Also enjoying the celebrations was regional fundraiser for the RAF Benevolent Fund Natasha Jones who joined in the chorus of Happy Birthday.

She told guests: “We are delighted to support ex-servicemen like Jack and their families and I am thrilled to be here today.”

Mr MacConachie added: “The work of the RAF Benevolent Fund is vital, which is why we at Sherwoods support its regular fundraising concerts. It’s the least we can do to pay back in some small way the huge debt we owe Jack and the other members of the Armed Forces that serve this country so well.”

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