Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 27°C

min temp: 15°C

Search

Going strong at 90 ... that's Walter

PUBLISHED: 23:17 14 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:40 03 March 2010

SPRITELY war hero Walter Thompson will be celebrating his 90th birthday next week.

It's a remarkable landmark for the dedicated Royal British Legion treasurer and Vice Chairman of the Ipswich branch.

SPRITELY war hero Walter Thompson will be celebrating his 90th birthday next week.

It's a remarkable landmark for the dedicated Royal British Legion treasurer and Vice Chairman of the Ipswich branch.

But he only has one real dream present … and that's to see an extension created for cenotaph in Christchurch Park.

Mr Thompson has long been campaigning with the RBL for a proper tribute in the town to those who lost their lives in combat.

So far £15,000 has been raised, but that is just a fraction of the £250,000 needed to commemorate the heroes of World War Two.

"It would make my 90th year," said Mr Thompson, also vice president and last surviving founder member of the Ipswich branch of the Royal Naval Association, founded in 1952.

"People are gradually sending the money in. But we could really do with more."

In 1952 Mr Thompson was presented with a BEM – British Empire Medal – today's equivalent to an MBE for his services to the Royal Navy.

Mr Thompson, of Lacey Street, became involved with the RBL 46 years ago after his retirement from the Navy as chief gunnery instructor. In his honour he was presented with life membership along with a gold badge for long service.

A remarkable character, as welfare officer for the RBL he prepares packs of sweets and cigarettes and delivers them to elderly residents, mostly younger than himself.

The father of three is also actively involved in the Poppy Appeal – and still distributes to poppies to the collectors from his office in St Margaret's Green.

But despite reaching this landmark year Mr Thompson has no plans to give up working life.

As his cousin, Peter Thompson, 68, of Thurleston Lane, Ipswich, explained: "He still drives a car and every day he is down at the RBL offices in Ipswich.

"Organising is part of the Thompson family, who have always been in the military.

"If you are an organiser there is nothing you can do about it. It is something you will always do."

Walter Thompson started his Naval Career at in 1923 at the Royal Hospital School in Greenwich before going on to HMS Ganges, the former Naval training establishment at Shotley.

During the war years he served mainly on HMS Phoebe in the Mediterranean but also other ships including HMS Vanguard, as regulating chief petty officer.

He then returned to HMS Ganges as ship's company as a gunnery instructor training new entries.

After his retirement as chief gunnery instructor he joined work for the Suffolk Press, part of Eastern Counties Newspaper Group.

Although his birthday is on Monday (15) he celebrates it the day before, with a big party for over 100 people at the Manor Ballroom in Ipswich.

n If you would like to donate to the World War Two memorial appeal cheques can be sent to the Royal British Legion, Ipswich branch, at 12 St Margaret's Green, Ipswich. Cheques should be made out to World War Two Memorial Fund.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Ipswich Star

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists