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Last surviving spitfire pilot turns 100 with special celebration

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A Bracknell care home resident had a special birthday celebration to honour his status as the last surviving pilot of 41 Squadron from World War Two.

Peter Hale, the last surviving pilot of the 41 Squadron, celebrated his 100th birthday on Thursday July 28 with residents and team members from Care UK’s Bickerton House care home on Warfield Road.

Peter's 100th Birthday at Bickerton House
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The team at Bickerton House knew they wanted to do an extra special celebration for Peter and so they liaised with the RAF to organise for a Typhoon Fighter plane to fly over the park opposite the home. 

The RAF had to get special clearance from Heathrow Airport for the flypast, but it was granted because of Peter’s status as the last surviving pilot from the 41 Squadron. 

On the day, Peter was presented with a special award by three RAF commanders, Flight Lieutenant Michael Jackson, Warrant Officer Stevie Dryburgh and AS1T Alex Szerlowski, of the current 41 Squadron. Flight Lieutenant Scott Davis of the Queens Colour Squadron also joined the celebration to present Peter with a plague and signed print, and six members of the RAF Cadets were also in attendance.

At 2pm as the fighter jet roared past, residents from Bickerton House and members of the Bracknell community gathered in the park to celebrate Peter’s birthday. A local business provided a balloon arch for the event, while the local pub, The Boot, provided draft beer after Peter said he ‘fancied one’. 

Later in the afternoon, the war veteran was awarded with a telegram from The Queen and over 300 birthday cards and gifts from the local community.

The Bracknell resident joined the RAF during the second World War in June 1941 at the age of 18. He became fully qualified to fly from September of the same year, which gave him opportunities to travel all over the world, including Canada in 1942 and Belgium in 1944. 

In June 2021, just before his 99th birthday, Peter was honoured for his status as the last remaining member of the Spitfire crew from World War Two. He was presented with a signed print by two currently serving members of the 41 Squadron. 

During the Second World War, the 41 Squadron operated the Submarine Spitfire which was a key defender in the Battle of Britain and the fighting at Dunkirk. From 1943 to 1944, the Squadron flew many missions, including flying defensive patrols against low level attacks and escorting essential weaponry to troops on the ground. 

Peter said, commenting on turning 100: “There isn’t much chance of getting used to yet, but I will need to get used to it! 

“I’ve had quite a few flyovers over the years but this one was lovely, sharing it with everyone. It was also very nice to receive the special one-off award from the RAF – it has all been be rather overwhelming.”

 

It was also very nice to receive the special one-off award from the RAF – it has all been be rather overwhelming.

Peter Hale, resident at Bickerton House

Erika Smith, Home Manager at Bickerton House, said: “Peter is a much-loved resident here at Bickerton House. Inspired by Peter’s history in the RAF, we were excited to organise a truly special   birthday surprise for Peter’s milestone. 

“Here at Bickerton House, we always like to celebrate significant milestones, and Peter’s 100th birthday was no exception. The team worked tirelessly to make sure his day was one to remember, and we would like to thank everyone who came along to wish Peter a happy birthday, especially to the three commanders from the RAF who presented Peter with his award.

“It has been a day of honouring all of Peter’s achievements and one we will not forget for a long time to come. Many happy returns Peter!”

Bickerton House has been designed to encourage residents to live active and fulfilling lives, while remaining as independent as possible in a safe environment. The state-of-the-art care home provides full-time residential, nursing and specialist dementia care, and features a bar and café, cinema, hair salon, activities room and garden.

For more information about Bickerton House, please call Customer Relations Manager, Jo Anderson on 01344 989943, email Jo.Anderson@careuk.com, or visit careuk.com/bickerton-house.

Open to new residents

Warfield Road, Bracknell, Berkshire, RG12 2JA

Bickerton House

CQC Rating: Good
  • Residential care
  • Dementia care
  • Nursing care
  • Nursing dementia care
  • Respite care
  • End of life care
  • Day club

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