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RAF veteran, 85, given Spitfire flight in recognition of role as wife’s carer

John Allinson flew over the Isle of Wight and the Needles.

RAF veteran 85 year-old John Allinson, waves prior to a flight in a Spitfire (Andrew Matthews/PA)
RAF veteran 85 year-old John Allinson, waves prior to a flight in a Spitfire (Andrew Matthews/PA)

By Ben Mitchell, PA

An RAF veteran has achieved the “ambition of a lifetime” by taking a flight in a Spitfire organised as a thank you for his “selfless” caring for his wife.

John Allinson, from Reading, Berkshire, was given the chance to fly in the fighter plane after his granddaughter contacted the Red Letter Days experience gift company.

The 85-year-old, who served in the military police for five years from the age of 17 and who reached the rank of corporal, took his flight from Solent Airport in Lee-on-the-Solent, Hampshire.

Mr Allinson, who left the RAF more than 60 years ago, said that he felt nervous before taking off but added: “It’s a lifetime ambition.

“I have always loved the Spitfire since I joined the RAF and I did have a chance to fly in a small Harvard two-seater but it’s nothing like this.

“I didn’t know anything about this until a week ago, they kept it from me.”

Granddaughter Lauren Allinson said she had organised the flight because her grandfather was a “very special man” who dedicated himself to looking after his wife, Gwen.

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RAF veteran John Allinson speaks with his daughter-in-law Karen Allison and granddaughter Lauren Allinson (left) (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The 26-year-old said: “He’s very fond of his RAF times, he goes on about it all the time, he’s very proud.

“He has been caring for my nan for 12 years and he often cannot get out, let alone do something like this.

“I contacted Red Letter Days so he can have one final memory given all he has done.”

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RAF veteran John Allinson is fitted with a helmet (Andrew Matthews/PA)

She added: “He is overwhelmed, he’s petrified but underneath it all he’s very happy.”

Mr Allinson was taken for a 20-minute flight in the Mark Nine Spitfire, originally built in 1944, which took him over the Isle of Wight and the Needles.

Dan Mountain, chief executive of Red Letter Days, said it had gifted the trip to Mr Allinson as part of its #NoMoreSlippers campaign to challenge preconceptions of what older people are capable of.

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RAF veteran 85 year-old John Allinson (left) comes into land (Andrew Matthews/PA)

He said: “Helping John realise his Spitfire dream was incredible, and exactly the sort of moment we hoped this campaign would create.

“What he has achieved during his lifetime is admirable, and we’re so pleased we were able to make this happen.

“John is a fantastic role model, proving that you’re never too old to have adventures and live life to the fullest.”

PA

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