Hailsham man who flew Spitfire planes celebrates 101st birthday

A retired RAF pilot from Hailsham has celebrated his 101st birthday.

A spokesperson from Abbots Wood Manor Care Home, where Donald Greenwood lives, said, “When Donald was born the world was recovering from the most severe pandemic ever recorded – the Spanish flu, also known as the Great Influenza Epidemic, the Great War had ended, and King George V was on the throne.”

Mr Greenwood, who enrolled in the RAF in his youth, flew Spitfire planes and although he didn’t see enemy action during the war, he loved flying and went on to become an RAF flight instructor.

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In later years Mr Greenwood went to work for Vauxhall Motors as a design engineer.

Donald Greenwood with Linda Wade and John Court. Picture from Abbots Wood Manor Care Home SUS-210209-095937001

The spokesperson said, “He was thrilled to be handed a special signed RAF poster on his big day.”

Mr Greenwood said, “It’s been a lovely day. I have been spoilt.”

As well as being a pilot, Mr Greenwood is a keen sportsman and was a senior captain at Willingdon Golf Club in Eastbourne.

Abbots Wood Manor’s regional community relations lead Richard Hollands contacted the club to tell them about Mr Greenwood’s special day and they immediately agreed to provide a club sweater.

Current club captain John Court presented the sweater to Mr Greenwood – who is an honorary member of the club.

Mr Court said, “I am honoured to come here and present Mr Greenwood with this gift, he has been a loyal member of the golf club for so many years.

“He is also a very special man who served his country at a time of need, a very brave and courageous fellow.”

Mr Greenwood was joined by his daughter Linda Wade for the special presentation.

Mr Greenwood said, “I did not expect anything like all this fuss, but it’s so good to put my club jacket back on.

“Thank you to the staff here at Abbots Wood Manor for making this possible.”

Mr Hollands from the care home in London Road said, “We are very proud to have Donald here at Abbots Wood Manor, he is full of interesting stories and has a wonderful history to tell.

“He has always been a keen golfer so to see him recognised by his former club is truly wonderful.

“Thank you very much to John and the club and to Donald’s family for helping celebrate Donald’s big day.”