Come in and take a set. The sitting room is furnished with

the Parker Knoll easy chairs he once sold for a living.

Not that Ted, who turns 90 next birthday, is about to

take things easy himself.

Three times a week he rises early and drives to

Alleynes Pool for a 7.30 swim. An ex-jogger, he has

Only just given up delivering the 'Tower and Spire'

magazine for St Michael, Stone and St Saviour Aston,

and is still an active parish member.

All this despite a double heart bypass in 2007, a

second bowel cancer operation in 201 3, a prostrate

removal and a hernia operation (on top of caring for

his late wife Mavis, who passed away in October


In May this year, a former Parker Knoll colleague

who had moved to the southern USA invited Ted

over for a holiday. There Ted celebrated his 89th

birthday by climbing into the rear cockpit of a

Harvard two-seater plane for a flight over Mesa

Airport, now an aviation museum near Arizona, USA.

“Unusually, they put a control column in for me

because it was Harvards that I had learnt to fly as an

RAF pilot in WW2,” he explained.

Born in inner London in 1925,Ted had grown up

with a passion for model airplanes. On leaving

school at 15, he joined the Air Training Corps (ATC),

where examination success rapidly promoted him

to ATC Flight Sergeant. Aged 17%, he volunteered

for the RAF, passing both its tough medical and

aptitude tests to be accepted as a trainee pilot.

After training on Tiger Moths in the UK,in1944Ted

was sent to Arizona, USA, where he enhanced his

basic flying skills with close formation flying and


"All that the Red Arrows do, l could do as well” is

his proud boast. He got his wings in August 1945,

one of the last to do so as WW2 came to an end.

Wanting to continue as a career pilot, Ted signed

on for the RAF and spent the next three years in

India co-piloting Dakota transport planes.

"Strangely, my chief pilot wasn't terribly keen on

flying,” Ted recounts. ”He'd supervise my takeoff,

then retire to the rear for a kip. I'd have to send the

navigator to wake him up for the landing - but that

was fine by me!”

But following Indian independence in 1947, Ted's

last service duty was to fly his Dakota back to the UK

to be demobbed.

"The late 1940s brought me down to earth with a

bump!” Ted ruefully recalled. He lacked the flying

hours to become an airline pilot, a RAF ground staff

career was not for him, he decided, nor a return to

the City firm of accountants, where he had started

working life.

Still thrill-seeking, in 1948, Ted went along to the

inaugural meeting of an Adventurers Club, which

ended with him being adopted as Honorary


The Honorary Treasurer was Mavis, a Yorkshire lass

living in London, who, on setting eyes on Ted that

night, promptly announced he was “hers”!

Ted and Mavis's first adventure was being winched

down on ropes and tackle through an underground

shaft into two 4O›foot flint-lined caverns or Dene

holes in East Anglia. “They were thought to have

been Viking grain stores,” Ted explains/'The London

Evening Standard sent a Journalist to cover the

story. He didn't want to come down with us ~ until

Mavis shamed him into doing it!"

But the club's greatest adventure saw them buying

an ex-Admiralty surf boat, for which they constructed a

collapsible cabin while Mavis made the sail.

ln August 1948, the plan was for Ted and three

other men to sail it down the Thames and across the

Channel to Calais, then back again. Their first call was

at Tower Pier where they picked up Mavis and a one

Iegged fellow passenger to take them down-river to

the Isle of Grain. “The Piermaster frankly thought

we'd escaped from a lunatic asylum,” Ted recalls.

He began to understand why, when reaching the

Isle of Grain, they found the wind was against them,

the tide was out and they had to wade through mud

to deposit Mavis and the one-Iegged passenger at a

pub.” The rest of us spent the night in an empty hut

nearby, repaired a hole in the boat, continued down

the Thames, turned right and headed for Calais. But

we still had to row nearly all the way!"

Once in Calais harbour, they found the French

customs were on strike, so they had no one to report

their arrival to. “One of our party was happy to stay

on board and fish while the rest of us went off for a

long weekend in Paris,” Ted continues.“ When we got

back, the customs were still on strike,” so our visit to

France must have gone unrecorded!"

Their return journey was in a flat calm (more

rowing required) until they were seven miles off

Ramsgate, where they hit a thunderstorm. "Forked

Iightning was hitting the sea all around and our

mast was the highest thing for miles. We sat there

praying, but made it back to Ramsgate harbour -

and to Mavis!" The pair got married the following


As for earning his living, Ted's charm and quick wits

were to make him a natural salesman. After a spell

with shoe wholesalers Lilley and Skinners in

London, his second job brought him into this area as

salesman for the Stone bespoke shoe manufacturer


"Invogue had two dedicated shoe outlets at two

London department stores, where it was my job to

sell their shoes to ladies of quality/' Ted happily

recounts. But a year later, the increase in purchase

tax on luxury goods sadly put paid to Invogue.

Instead Ted gravitated towards the furniture

industry, landing himself a job in High Wycombe

with Parker Knoll, where his natural sales ability and

diligence in qualifying as a member of the

Chartered Institute of Marketing after two years of

evening classes assured his career success.

With promotion came moves in a northerly

direction, first to Birmingham, then Walsall, where

the couple's son Martin and daughter Lorraine were

born. In the late 19605, the young family settled in

Stone. “l was Parker Knoll area rep for Staffordshire,

Derbyshire, Cheshire and Sheffield so Stone was a

convenient base. lt’s a right-sized town, the people are friendly,

my daughter lives locally and my son plans to retire here too.”

While Martin and Lorraine were growing up, Mavis combined

motherhood with working as a dinner lady and playground

supervisor at Manor Hill First School, then Walton Priory Middle

School. ”The heads loved her because she could keep order in

the canteen and playground. On wet days she’d test the

children on their mental arithmetic. They remembered her

fondly and for years afterwards, used to greet her when we

were out and about.”

In Stone, Ted promptly made himself known to the then

incumbent of St Michael’s, becoming (with Mavis's support and

assistance) a pillar of the parish first as reader, later as Church

Warden, Hon. Treasurer, latterly GiftAid Secretary and up till

recently, newsletter deliverer. Ted still takes his turn reading at

the 8am service once a month. ”Rector Ian Cardinal thinks it's

good for volunteers to read so that the congregation get a

change from just hearing his voice.”

After his retirement 25 years ago, Ted was a volunteer driver

for Staffordshire Ambulance Service. ”Some of my passengers

taught me a real life lesson," he recounts/‘Some were in terrible

health, but still thinking of others worse off than themselves

and still looking forward.”

lt's this positive outlook, an active lifestyle and a laidback

approach, not to mention a fair portion of luck that have led to

Ted's long, successful and happy life. "While l’ve always striven

for success, I've never worried about things I've no power to

change,” is Ted's recipe.

”ln wartime, l never bothered about the V2 rockets raining all

about us while we RAF volunteers were up on roofs repairing

bomb damage to homes in London,” Ted says. “You couldn't

hearV2s until they were about to fall and by then it would have

been all over anyway!

“We've all got to go some time, and l'm not afraid of death

when it comes,” Ted confides. But meanwhile, he’s popping

down to Stone Tennis Club for a hand of bridge.

(please excuse any errors in the above – blame in on my OCR)