CARPENTER KEN RETIRES FOR THE 4TH TIME

Mr Kenneth Mair has given more than 50 years service to the Royal Air Force and the Ministry of Defence; at the age of 73 he has decided to retire (for the fourth time) and work on improving his golf handicap.

As a young lad aged 16 Ken began his working life as an Apprentice Carpenter.  A friend persuaded Ken to join him in the Auxiliary Royal Air Force and so at the age of 18 he attended ‘Air Traffic Control’ training at Aberdeen Airport during his weekends.

However at the tender age of 21 his 5 years Apprenticeship complete; Service Conscription beckoned.  So in October 1959 Ken headed off to RAF Cardington for mustering and kitting, he then moved to RAF Swinderby for his Initial Service Training where he learned about military ethos before being sent to RAF Shawbury to undertake his full Air Traffic Control trade training.

Having spent his youth at Aberdeen Airport where his interest in flying was developed, trade training was a snip, and in 1960 a year after joining the RAF he was posted to Air Traffic Control at RAF Leuchars, in Scotland.

Ever wanting to expand his experiences; Ken was keen to see the world, volunteering for foreign tours.  His UK tours in Waddington, Coningsby, Donna Nook, HQ ICP (Bawtry) and Preston, were interspersed with overseas tours in Idris (Libya), Wildenwrath (Germany) and RAF Mount Pleasant (Falkland Islands).  Finally his illustrious service Career came to an end at RAF Coningsby (his third tour of duty at the base) in 1993, when he left the RAF after 34 years service, aged 55 attaining the rank of Flight Sergeant.

On his first occasion of retirement Ken was all set to play golf and relax after his busy career in the RAF, however after only two weeks and whilst visiting his local Post Office he was offered a job as a Postman; Ken was proud of his new role and for 18 months enjoyed the rigours of delivering the mail. That is until 1995, when by chance he was told that the Carpenter’s position at RAF Coningsby was vacant.  “Perfect”, Ken was not only back working with the RAF but utilising his first love, Carpentry.

RAF Coningsby became Ken’s place of work again for a further 7 years and then in 2003 he decided to retire for the second time.  Due to his experience and commendable work rate, the loss of Ken at this time would have been a considerable blow, however he was persuaded (with little difficulty it seems) to remain for a further year.  In 2004 Ken retired for a third time, finally taking up his beloved golf full time, however this only lasted for another 2 years. Once again the calling from RAF Coningsby came, requiring his services, this time however he was reluctant to relinquish all his golfing time and agreed to come back part time, so in 2006 Ken was back in familiar surroundings!

Now at the end of this epic journey Ken has accepted that it is finally time to put away his work tools, so in January 2012 at the age of 73, after 34 years in the RAF and 16 many invaluable years’ service to the MOD as a civilian, he will retire for the fourth and last time.

Warrant Officer Colin Palmer of the Ground Engineering Flight (GEF) said:  “Mr Mair has worked for me throughout his time at RAF Coningsby; as a tradesman, colleague and friend he will be missed by everyone and especially his GEF colleagues.” He added: “We would like to wish Ken well for whatever the future may hold.”

Strapped in an oxygen mask fitting chair mounted on a trailer, Ken was escorted from the Station by his colleagues for the last time on Wednesday 11 January 2012; many of his colleagues lined the route to wave him off.