Woodbridge: Glowing tributes paid to devoted glider pilot

Ronald Page, from Woodbridge, who has passed away at the age of 87.

Ronald Page, from Woodbridge, who has passed away at the age of 87. - Credit: Contributed

GLOWING tributes have been paid to a dedicated glider pilot and instructor who on his retirement was the country’s longest serving officer in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (Training) RAFVR(T).

Ronald Page, who lived in Woodbridge, clocked up an impressive 12,000 flights and sent 813 pupils solo. The 87-year-old, who was commissioned in the RAFVR(T) in 1946, died at Grove Court care home last month.

His interest in gliding started during the Second World War when he joined the Air Training Corps (ATC) as a cadet in 1942. A year later he was the first cadet to go solo in a glider in the London area.

He served with several squadrons throughout the country, eventually reforming 1331 (Stowmarket) Squadron and became their commanding officer.

He first began instructing in 1949 at the ATC Gliding School, at Martlesham Heath, and became chief flying instructor.

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In 1964, he became commanding officer of 611 Gliding School, at Swanton Morley in Norfolk, and during his 23-year tenure it won several trophies as the best gliding school in the UK.

During his time with the RAFVR(T), he also took part in International Air Cadet Exchange (IACE) tours to Sweden, Germany and the USA, and spent time with the Spanish Air Force teaching cadets to glide.

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In 1977, Mr Page received his ultimate accolade when the Queen presented him with an MBE in recognition of his long service as a volunteer reserve.

He was with the RAFVR(T) for 41 years and on his retirement in 1987 was the longest serving officer in the country.

Mr Page’s wife of 22 years, Margaret, said: “Ron always said his reward for all the hard work was seeing many of the cadets making a successful career in the RAF after passing through his units. He devoted himself wholeheartedly to the training and had such a positive impact on the development of a great many young people.

“Ron was much admired and respected. He had great leadership qualities and strength of character. He always had something to say and was a man who brought lots of happiness and laughter to others with his dry wit and unique sense of humour. He was a true gentleman.”

Away from the RAFVR(T), Mr Page worked as a surveyor with Chigwell Urban District Council before moving to Suffolk and joining Shell Mex and BP in 1954, where his career spanned 30 years.

In his spare time he also did powered flying and was associated with the old Ipswich Airport, where he ran flying groups, clocking up some 2,000 flying hours.

After his retirement from the RAFVR(T), he devoted more time to private gliding and was a member of the Tibbenham Gliding Club before calling it a day on his 73rd birthday.

He then concentrated his efforts on the local bowls scene, sitting as chairman of the Short Mat Bowls Club for more than 15 years and was appointed president of the Woodbridge Bowls Club from 2011-13.

Mrs Page said she would like to thank the staff at Grove Court for the wonderful care they gave her husband.

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