WAR veteran and marathon man Eric Sawyer, 86, kept his feet firmly on the ground this week after being awarded an MBE.
He said he was accepting the award on behalf of everyone at the Northwich branch of the RAFA which he helped to set up way back in 1953, and where he serves as president.
He has been involved in the successful running of the branch since it opened and every year during Battle of Britain Week embarks on an amazing charity trek which has raised nearly £50,000 in 26 years.
During the war Eric was an airframe fitter with, among others, the Yorkshire-based heavy bomber 578 squadron. Today Second World War veterans and their dependents increasingly rely on the Royal Air Force Association (RAFA) to support them.
He used to make the 25 mile walks from his home in Rudheath to the RAF base in Sealand, near Chester ,but all that changed in 2006 when it was announced that the station was to be closed as part of military cut backs.
‘I timed the walks so that I would arrive at Sealand in time to have a drink in the bar with my mates. It’s a shame I couldn’t carry on doing that, but rather than call it all off, I decided to try something new and started the walk in Chester, ending it at my front door in Wessex Drive, Rudheath.’
Last year concerned friends and officials at the RAFA persuaded him to do the trek over two days.
He trains for the missions on long walks in the countryside and most Thursdays embarks on an 8km walk to the church at Lower Peover, where he has many supporters.
Despite all he has achieved he still remains surprised at all the fuss.
‘I admire people who can go out with a tin and collect money that way, but it’s not for me,’ he said. ‘I love walking, it helps keep me fit, and it’s my way of doing something to help someone else.’