Churchill and Hula Hoops - the likes and dislikes of Lord Dannatt
- Credit: Matthew Usher
Born in Essex, General The Lord Dannatt GCB CBE MC DL is a retired senior British Army officer and member of the House of Lords. He was chief of the general staff between 2006-2009. He lives just outside of Norwich with his wife Pippa, The Lady Dannatt
What is your connection to East Anglia?
I was born and brought up in Essex, and met my wife, Pippa Gurney who was born and brought up in Norfolk, when we were both at Durham University.
What is your East Anglian heaven?
Under the big skies of the Norfolk coast, I am happiest on the beach or the golf course at Brancaster.
And your East Anglian hell?
Any rubbish fly-tipping site anywhere in Norfolk.
What is your favourite local landmark?
Norwich Cathedral has a majesty of its own standing guard over the City of Norwich.
What’s the best thing that happens in Norfolk every year?
It is the Royal Norfolk Show – the best day out of the year. It must come back in 2022.
Your specialist Mastermind subject?
The Normandy Campaign of June to August 1944
What is always in your fridge?
Fresh orange for breakfast, a bottle of Woodforde’s Wherry on special days and a pot of Gentlemen’s Relish for a crumpet at teatime.
What’s your simple philosophy of life?
Life is not as simple as ABC, but if you Aim High, Be the Best and remember that Courage is Key that is not a bad handrail through life.
Do you have a favourite film?
It is a toss-up between The Longest Day and A Bridge Too Far.
What is your most treasured possession?
When I left the Army as Chief of the General Staff in 2009, all the Regimental Sergeant Majors of the British Army presented me with a framed case containing a second set of my decorations and medals. How they acquired them, only they know!
Who do you admire most?
Winston Churchill was my boyhood hero and has remained so. If ever there was a man destined for a moment in history, it was him.
What’s your worst character trait?
My wife says it is laughing at my own jokes – well, somebody has to!
Where do you love to go on holiday?
For the last 30 years, we go to Cornwall with the whole family in early August and then just us fishing with friends in Scotland in late September.
The best day of your life so far?
It must be March, 19, 1977 when Pippa and I were married in St Peter Mancroft Church in Norwich. She has saved me from myself more times than I care to recall!
What’s your favourite breakfast?
Fresh orange, coffee and eggs benedict, but usually it is a bowl of All Bran!
Your favourite tipple?
Bell’s whisky, Schweppes soda and a packet of Hula Hoops.
Do you have a hidden talent?
Not hidden but noisy - I fly helicopters with just over 440 hours in my logbook on 13 different aircraft types. But I have not flown since I left the Army.
What’s your earliest memory?
My parents went on a holiday to Switzerland and brought me back a pair red felt braces, when I was just three. Sticking my thumbs under the straps and puffing out my chest, I thought I had really grown up. My elder sister did not agree!
Tell us something people don’t know about you.
I have robbed a bank. It was the Head Office of the Hercegovacka Banka in Mostar in Bosnia. The bank was being used to money launder a break away movement in Bosnia in early 2000 and needed to be “done”, including blowing the safes! We “did” it – and nearly blew the doors off – to misquote Michael Caine!
Why do you live in East Anglia and nowhere else?
Although we moved 23 times during the 32 years that Pippa and I were married during my Army time, Keswick in Norfolk has been our real home since we married in 1977.
When her father died in 2004, I took over running the farm and still do. Pippa is now HM Lord-Lieutenant of Norfolk, so we will never live anywhere else, nor would we want to.
What do you want to tell our readers about most?
Trying to be a good leader has always been a key part of my life. If readers want to know more, please download and listen to Jake Humphrey’s The High Performance podcast. I was his guest this week and I talk to him about my leadership experiences. Jake is a great guy and his podcasts are brilliant.