Flashback: A Spitfire plane, an armed shop raid and a young ‘caring’ organ donor

40-years-ago. Picture: Romford Library

40-years-ago. Picture: Romford Library - Credit: Romford Library

A look back at the biggest local stories from this day 20, 40 and 60 years ago.

1957:

An ex-bomber pilot wanted to buy a condemned Spitfire which had made its last operational flight, and present it to Hornchurch, as a memorial to Battle of Britain pilots who flew from the local airfield.

The anonymous donor began four hours of frantic telephoning immediately after the Air Ministry announced that it was to scrap two of the remaining aircraft.

A ministry spokesman said: “Sorry old chap, the Spits are not for sale.


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“They’re being broken down as spares for the one that will lead future Battle of Britain fly-pasts.”

But in the end, an Air Ministry official promised that it might have one at one of its stations.

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1977:

An armed thief terrorised a shop owner and threatened to shoot him with an automatic pistol in a dramatic raid.

Then the thief snatched a package containing two replica firearms and a shoulder holster and fled.

Romford police warned that the raider may have stolen the guns to use in a robbery.

Despite a helicopter and squad car search of the area around the shop, High Street, Romford, immediately after the raid, the gunman escaped into market day crowds.

The shop owner, Edwin Singleton, who specialised in replica guns, spoke to the Recorder about what happened.

He said: “The man came into the shop earlier in the day and ordered the guns, valued at £60.

“He said he would go and get the money.

“When he returned, I had packaged the guns.

“He pulled out an automatic pistol, pointed it at me and then ran off with the package.”

1997:

The tragic death of a “very caring” young boy gave the gift of life to many others after doctors were given permission to donate his organs.

Matthew Howard, 11, who insisted on carrying a donor card, died in a road accident while riding his bike.

He was taken to Basildon Hospital where his parents gave doctors the go-ahead to remove his organs for donation when it was found there was no chance of saving him.

It was believed up to 40 people could have benefited, including two young girls aged eight and 12 who would each receive a kidney.

His liver could give a dying mother-of-three the chance to live and heart valves, bone

and other organs could be

used in more than 30 other cases.

His dad said: “It is exactly what he would have wanted us to do.

“He spoke to us about it before and we want to meet with his wishes.”

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