A World War Two veteran from Kemnay has been treated to an air force themed outing in celebration of his 100th birthday.
Royal Air Force veteran Paul Bohan enjoyed a very special trip to Morayvia and RAF Lossiemouth on Friday, November 29, organised by charity Scottish War Blinded.
His special birthday celebrations kicked off with a party at Scottish War Blinded’s monthly lunch club in Inverurie, which Paul, who has the sight condition age-related macular degeneration, attends regularly.
Scottish War Blinded staff and volunteers then accompanied Paul and some of his fellow veterans with sight loss to a VIP tour of Morayvia – the Science and Technology Experience Project in Kinloss, Morayshire.
The group enjoyed exploring a Nimrod and a Vulcan amongst other aircraft at the centre, which had opened up especially in the closed winter season for Paul’s special tour, before centre staff presented him with personalised gifts and a birthday cake.
The veterans were delighted to then be hosted by a team of service personnel at RAF Lossiemouth, where they were met by Flying Officer Hannah Jones, Warrant Officer Mark Ratcliffe, and other RAF personnel.
Staff laid on a showcase of various artefacts, which brought back many memories for Paul and his fellow veterans, before presenting the 100-year-old with further gifts, with the whole group also receiving RAF Lossiemouth beanies and badges.
Paul said: “The hospitality from everyone was outstanding, I was treated like a VIP all day.
“Everyone went out of their way to make this a memorable day for me.”
Paul added: “At 100, I am still learning things. Things have certainly changed since I joined the RAF 82 years ago!”
Paul, who was brought up in Byers Green, County Durham, joined the RAF as a boy entrant, initially training as a wireless operator and then as a wireless and electrical mechanic.
During the war, Paul served in a mobile unit providing support to the army. Demobbed in 1947, he then worked in engineering roles, including as a broadcasting engineer for the BBC.
He is now supported to adapt to life with sight loss by Scottish War Blinded.
The day also meant a lot to the whole group of veterans, who very much enjoyed the opportunity to relive some fond memories of their time in the forces.
Scottish War Blinded veteran, Patrick Wire, said: “The RAF did us proud, I was always impressed by the RAF when I served with them and now all these years later I was equally impressed. Everyone did their best to make us feel welcome at Morayvia and Lossiemouth and it was very inclusive. The tour at Morayvia was excellent, everyone was very knowledgeable and gave us time to ask questions or explain things. A great day out.”
National service veteran, Harvey Grainger, said: “This was a most nostalgic visit which brought back many memories. I was very impressed by the knowledge of the volunteers at Morayvia. My father was a Press Officer War Correspondent and flew with the Wellington Bombers from Lossiemouth, so to go back to where he served was quite an experience.”
And Scottish War Blinded have extended thanks to all at Morayvia and RAF Lossiemouth for all of their efforts and kindness shown to Paul and his fellow veterans.
Rebecca Barr, Director of Scottish War Blinded, said: “A huge thank you to all at Morayvia and RAF Lossiemouth who worked closely with Paul’s Scottish War Blinded Outreach Worker, Ingrid Penny, to make this outing possible. Thank you for making it such a special day for all.
“Scottish War Blinded were honoured to help in arranging this day out for Paul and some of his Scottish War Blinded friends to celebrate his landmark birthday.
“Local outings form part of the many social opportunities we organise for our Scottish War Blinded veterans with sight loss across the country. It’s lovely to hear that this group are enjoying each other’s company so much, both at their lunch group and on various days out we facilitate.”
The Station Adjutant, Flying Officer Hannah Jones, who arranged the visit to the Heritage Centre, said: “It was a privilege to host veterans from the Scottish War Blinded charity, and to share the day with Paul who celebrated his 100th birthday with us.
“The Heritage Centre is a fantastic way for us to stay connected with our veterans, and it was clear that all who visited had fond memories of their time in the Armed Forces.
“After being shown around the centre and enjoying a buffet lunch, the veterans and charity volunteers all departed the Station with beaming smiles – much to the delight of all of the personnel who hosted that day!
“The Heritage Centre is run by a team of volunteers, who source the contents of the exhibits and host visits in their own time as an additional duty.”