Sudbury: RBL stalwart Edward Wood, 76, was ‘an officer and a gentleman’
- Credit: Contributed
A former RAF squadron leader from west Suffolk who was heavily involved with his local branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL) has passed away.
Edward Wood, who was known as Ted, from Bulmer, died at home three days before Christmas Day aged 76 following a battle with prostate cancer.
At the time of his death he was president of the Sudbury and District Branch of the RBL, and he had also been vice-chairman at county level before stepping down from that role due to his ill health.
His last public appearance with the RBL was in Sudbury on Remembrance Sunday.
His son-in-law Stephen Kent, speaking on behalf of the family, said his father-in-law had a long and distinguished career within aviation “and was one of those lucky few who could boast that their career enabled their passion”.
Commissioned in 1957, he flew some famous operational aircraft of his time, including Vampires, English Electric Lightnings and Hunters.
His career with the RAF spanned nearly 24 years, and was followed by roles including a flying instructor, working for a commercial airline and at one time he also ran a bed-and-breakfast just outside Nayland with his wife, Muriel.
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His widow, 79, with whom he had three daughters, said: “He always wanted to fly from the age of about 10 or 12. His father would say ‘what would you like to do when you grow up?’ and he said ‘I’m going to fly’.”
In the early 1960s Mr Wood, who got his wings in Canada, was based in Germany where his squadron – 26 Squadron – had to patrol the Berlin Wall.
Mrs Wood said: “He had one occasion when a Russian aircraft came quite close to the border and he and a colleague in another aircraft had to see him off. Nothing was fired, but by all accounts that was quite a close one.”
His work saw the couple travel all over the world, including Malaysia.
Mrs Wood said “his life revolved around the military,” but added he loved his family.
“He was very gregarious, but quite reserved in some ways. He also liked his own company, but he has kept in touch with many of his past colleagues,” she said.
Mr Wood was part of the 41 Club in Sudbury, which is an extension of the Round Table, and he also played a key role in efforts to raise funds to create recreation space at a field in Bulmer. Mrs Wood said he also took an interest in his garden later on in life.
Mr Kent said Mr Wood, who had six grandchildren, is often referred to as an “officer and a gentleman” having gained much popularity within Bulmer and the RBL through his voluntary work.
Stuart Hume, chairman of the Sudbury and District branch of the RBL, said: “We will sorely miss him.”
Mr Kent said the family wanted to acknowledge the “kind and passionate care” provided by all medical personnel who made his final days as bearable as possible.
Mr Wood’s funeral is taking place on Friday at noon at the Church of St Andrew’s in Bulmer. It will be family flowers only, but donations can be made to the RBL, the Church of St Andrew’s and towards prostate cancer research.