Former RAF gunner celebrates 100th birthday at West Sussex care home

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A former RAF rear gunner has celebrated his 100th birthday with family, friends and the Lord Mayor of Cardiff at Croft Meadow care home in Steyning.

Ron Brignall enjoyed the celebrations at the Shaw healthcare-operated care home, which included a medal presentation by Cardiff’s Lord Mayor, Councillor Bablin Molik.

Welshman Ron was born in Cardiff, and after leaving school took an apprenticeship that led to him working in Swansea, where he met his future wife, Betty, at a dance.

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During World War Two he joined the RAF, where he was a rear gunner and later a flight sergeant. He even made the local news during the war, as he climbed onto Cardiff’s City Hall building to put out an incendiary bomb, which led to him receiving a commendation.

(l-r) Ethan Duffett, Ollie Shelford, Ronald Brignall, Sue Wheelan, Ian Brignall(l-r) Ethan Duffett, Ollie Shelford, Ronald Brignall, Sue Wheelan, Ian Brignall
(l-r) Ethan Duffett, Ollie Shelford, Ronald Brignall, Sue Wheelan, Ian Brignall

Ron and Betty married in 1947 and moved to Swansea, where they had two children, Sue and Ian. He worked in the heating and ventilation sector, with him job taking him to Romania and Spain for short term contracts.

After Betty sadly died in 2006, Ron lived alone for 15 years, during which time – to mark his 90th birthday – he was given the opportunity to fly a two-seater plane from Shoreham Airport.

He moved into Croft Meadow in 2021 to be closer to Sue, and he continues to regularly see his four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

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Commenting on the celebration, manager Carmen Flueras, said: “We’d like to thank everyone for coming along to celebrate Ron’s special day.

“Ron is a much-loved resident at Croft Meadow, with loads of amazing stories to tell, so we were delighted to be able to mark his 100th birthday together.”

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