Women’s Royal Air Force (WRAF) veteran Heather Smith has found the sense of friendship and togetherness in her new apartment at Orchard Lodge in Calne reminds her of her days in the service. Like many Churchill Retirement Living Owners, Heather has an interesting and distinguished career behind her. Here is what she has to say about her life in the forces, and her new life at Orchard Lodge.
“I was brought up by a family who had all been in the military, and my brother was a Commander in the Fleet Air Arm, so by the time I was 21 I decided I would join up and went into the WRAF.
“I did my ‘square bashing’ (basic training) at Wilmslow and then went to Compton Bassett to the No.2 Radio School to do my trade training as a Telephonist. I then went back to Wilmslow to be part of the permanent staff.
“I enjoyed my time there, and when they closed the camp I went to Halton Hospital at Wendover in Bucks. After a stint there I was posted to Wegberg Hospital in Germany. This was regarded as a ‘home’ posting, it certainly was very comfortable there.
“I later worked as a Secretary on a voluntary basis for the RAF Association in Burnham, Bucks. We used to have a reunion once a year at Hayling Island, where it was nice to get together and recall old times. It wasn’t all old fogeys going over the past either, as we did a lot of welfare work and arranged to help veterans in need of support in various ways.
“The nice thing about being in the ‘mob’ was the social life and the general friendliness of everyone, and this is what I look forward to with Churchill Retirement Living. We have all chosen to be here in this new community at Orchard Lodge, and we have all worked hard to be where we are today.
“Being in ‘the service’ you are taken care of forever. After a major operation in 1991 I was able to convalesce in an Air Force convalescent home. I even had someone ring me up this year to see if I would like to have one of those little motorised buggies to buzz about in.
“You are never alone as an ex-Armed Forces member, and I’m sure that will also be the case when it comes to life with Churchill!”