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Spitfire flight to mark 80th birthday is a dream come true for Jannette

PUBLISHED: 05:30 23 October 2020

Jannette Service of Thurston flew in a Spitfire for her 80th birthday Picture: STUART SERVICE

Jannette Service of Thurston flew in a Spitfire for her 80th birthday Picture: STUART SERVICE

STUART SERVICE

A surprise Spitfire flight was a birthday dream come true for 80-year-old Jannette Service.

Jannette Service, who had a belated 80th birthday celebration flying in a Spitfire, with son Stuart Service, husband Barry Service and daughter Helen Seeley Picture: STUART SERVICEJannette Service, who had a belated 80th birthday celebration flying in a Spitfire, with son Stuart Service, husband Barry Service and daughter Helen Seeley Picture: STUART SERVICE

The great-grandmother, from Thurston, had no idea her son and daughter had booked the flight until the big day.

“My head is still in the clouds - it was absolutely amazing” she said.

“I had always wanted to fly in a Spitfire, but I never thought I would really be able to do it.”

Mrs Service actually turned 80 in March, but her birthday celebrations had to be cancelled due to coronavirus, and a rescheduled celebration could not go ahead either because of restrictions.

Jannette Service of Thurston getting ready for her 80th birthday flight Picture: STUART SERVICEJannette Service of Thurston getting ready for her 80th birthday flight Picture: STUART SERVICE

However, son Stuart Service and sister Helen Seeley made up for it by booking a flight in the iconic aircraft from Imperial War Museum Duxford.

Together with their dad, Barry Service, they managed to keep it quiet until the last minute.

MORE: Runner Stuart’s ‘virtual London marathon’ through Hadleigh

“It was a complete surprise. I had no idea at all - I thought we were going to Norfolk for a family day out and to go for a walk at the beach,” Mrs Service said.

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“I think they kept it quiet in case anything happened to stop it going ahead, such as weather conditions.”

Mrs Service said she felt very safe throughout. “The pilot was lovely and explained everything to me.”

Although she was a very small child during the Second World War, she does remember her mother holding her up to see Spitfires flying, and has always been fascinated by the planes.

The plane flew over Newmarket Racecourse and over her home in Thurston, as well as over Walsham le Willows, where her grandson Jack works, so he could see her.

Jannette Service had a surprise 80th birthday flight from Duxford in this Spitfire Picture: STUART SERVICEJannette Service had a surprise 80th birthday flight from Duxford in this Spitfire Picture: STUART SERVICE

After the flight they went on to lunch at the Packhorse Inn, Moulton, but Mrs Service said it was hard to tear her away from the plane.

MORE: Photos from Spitfire fly-over

Stuart, of Hadleigh, said: “Mum was fearless and enjoyed every minute, albeit a bit wobbly when she got out.”

He also paid tribute to the organisers, saying: “The brilliant team at Aerial Collective really helped to make it a truly memorable day, flying upside down and doing a loop the loop and Mum even got to take over controls at one point.” Of course, the pilot had dual controls.

Barry and Jannette have lived in Thurston for more than 56 years. Mrs Service worked at the Electricity Board, was one of the first brewery guides and then worked at Barclays Bank, and also served on Thurston Parish Council for more than 25 years.

Her husband worked for Greene King for more than 30 years before retiring and was a founder member of St Edmundsbury Sailing and Canoeing Association. Both are keen volunteers at Pakenham Water Mill.


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