RAF Mildenhall Squadron’s DIY SOS style project aims to give back to inspiring veteran
An RAF veteran posted to Mildenhall after beating an American general at squash during the Second World War is having his garden transformed thanks to a DIY SOS style project.
Noel 'Red' Dunningham flew Spitfires and Hurricanes in the RAF after training as a pilot in 1939 – when he had just turned 17.
His career took off in the cockpit of a Harvard in South Africa and ended with a stint as RAF Mildenhall's weapons and explosives officer.
Now retired and living in Red Lodge the 95-year-old, who was squadron leader at the west Suffolk base from 1972 to 1974 and ran marathons up until a few years ago, continues to inspire the next generation of servicemen.
In fact, his illustrious career in the air force and 'bright as a button' character has charmed one squadron so much they are transforming his back garden which he can no longer maintain.
You may also want to watch:
Members of RAF Mildenhall's 100th Logistics Readiness Squadron, including Red's neighbour Staff Sergeant Brian Nichols, said they wanted to give something back. The group met at Red's home at the weekend to make a start on the project.
Welcoming them Mr Dunningham said: 'First of all I would like to thank you from my heart for doing this today. As you can see I cannot help you with what you are doing.
- 1 'One of life's gentlemen' - Neighbours describe killer's double life
- 2 Village rounds on council over 'disgraceful' road resurfacing that covered cycle lanes and blocked drains
- 3 Missing man found by off-duty police officer
- 4 Woman's life 'left in pieces' after being raped while unconscious
- 5 The rise and fall of a beloved Norfolk wildlife park
- 6 Man in 50s dies after crash between car and bicycle
- 7 £5m roadworks on A47 cause delays - and months more to come
- 8 Couple in 80s given hospital treatment after alleged assault in village
- 9 Three Norfolk hotels named among the best for romance in the UK
- 10 Builder opens shepherd huts on site with unusual feature
'I am 95 and have had a long and hard life. I have also messed up my knees from running marathons and playing squash.
'When I was 17 in 1939 I trained as a pilot and was lucky enough to fly Hurricanes and Spitfires. I still think the Spitfire is the most beautiful aeroplane ever made and if it wasn't for these two aeroplanes we would all be sitting here speaking German.
He continued: 'After I joined the RAF I was posted to headquarters we had in north Germany. I remember one day I had no-one to play squash with. I found this one man and I beat him almost every time I played him. It turned out he was the commander-in-chief.
'I kept beating this very important American general at squash and he told me I should go to Mildenhall because I got on so well with Americans. So that's where I went and met so many wonderful people. I am so lucky to be sitting here now.'
Brambles, roots and overgrown plants have been cut away. Once it is finished, it is hoped Mr Dunningham will be able to sit and admire his garden.