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National Service event prompts Peter to reflect on letter to Margaret Thatcher

THE SPECIAL ‘Remembering National Service’ event being organised by the Royal British Legion at the National Memorial Arboretum on Tuesday, May 16 has prompted a Mid Wales veteran to dig into his archives.

The forthcoming event reminded Peter Webber, 87, from Berriew, near Welshpool, about a letter he wrote to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher when she stood down as an MP in 1992.

Apart from thanking the late Baroness Thatcher for her “excellent work” during her time in office, he mentioned the need for a central site in the UK where Britain could honour those who had given their lives for their country.

Likening it to Arlington National Cemetery in the United States, he suggested a site near Blenheim Palace where the grave of Britain’s wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill could be included

Nine years later, his wish came true when the National Memorial Arboretum opened at Alrewas, near Lichfield.

The Remembering National Service event there on May 16 is open for veterans, bereaved families and descendants of UK National Servicemen from the end of the Second World War until 1963.

National Service for Peter was deferred until he was 21, allowing him to qualify as a Chartered Mechanical Engineer at London University in Hendon. He describes National Service as being the defining period of his life.

Following “square bashing” at Bridgnorth and trade training at RAF Weeton near Blackpool, he eventually was stationed at RAF Waterbeach in Cambridgeshire where he supported Hunter and Javelin squadrons between 1957-’59 and was promoted from Leading Aircraftman to Corporal Junior Technician

Recalling his National Service, he said: “My days were filled with working in the station workshops, where I had the opportunity to work on various engines.

“One of my proudest moments was when the commanding officer allowed me to work on my vintage Arrol Johnson, a passion of mine since childhood. It was a challenging project, but I poured my heart and soul into it, and the sense of accomplishment when it was completed was immeasurable.

“My National Service experience was a defining period in my life. It taught me the value of hard work, perseverance and camaraderie. It provided me with invaluable skills and experiences that shaped my personal and professional life in countless ways.

“As I reflect on those years, I am filled with a sense of pride and gratitude for the opportunity to serve my country and be part of something greater than myself. It was a time of growth, challenges and unforgettable memories that will always hold a special place in my heart.”

During his time in the RAF, he met his future wife, Elaine and they married in August, 1959. They are now approaching their 64th wedding anniversary.

Peter went on to have a very successful business career, establishing Newtown-based CellPath, a British leader in cytology and histology products, which was sold to StatLab Medical Products from Texas, USA last June.

However, his entrepreneurial flair continues, as he now a co-owner of LunchLocker Ltd, which has patented sealed trays that hold multiple food products in a foldable packaging system and XXO2Cell Ltd, which specialises in HBOT, hyperbaric oxygen therapy chambers for patient therapy.

Peter’s latest business ventures are based in a small unit at the new Abermule Business Park.

In 2019, he was named the Entrepreneur of the Year at the Welsh Veterans Awards and has been a finalist for the last two years.