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Second World War pilot celebrates 102nd birthday in style at Ayrshire care home

Harry Gamper
Harry Gamper

A Second World War pilot and D-day veteran has celebrated his 102nd birthday in style at an Ayrshire care home.

Harry Gamper, a resident at Renaissance Care’s Malin Court, near Turnberry, was joined by his son, who flew in from Canada, and friends for an Italian-themed lunch and garden party.

Staff and fellow residents all played a part in making the day as special as possible with cocktails, nibbles and live entertainment from a local performer to mark the occasion after Gamper was unable to celebrate his landmark 100th with his family due to pandemic restrictions.

The celebration was a reminder of the many happy holidays spent in Italy with his late wife Annalisa.

He said: “Life is beautiful, and I’ve always lived it to the full. I love art, music, good food and the finest wine – all of these things, and the people around you are what matter most in life.

“The staff at Renaissance Care Malin Court leave no stone unturned, especially when it comes to a party. I look forward to my Italian feast and maybe a sing-a-long to some traditional Italian music.”

Gamper, originally from Surrey, served as an RAF pilot in the Second World War, winning medals for his service in France and Germany, including a Battle of Atlantic medal.

He completed over 1000 hours of flying time, taking the reins of Warwicks, Wellingtons and Catalina flying boats, even taking to the sky on D-day, previously remembering: “It was incredible, I’ll never forget it. For a whole week before D-Day, nobody was allowed off the aerodrome. So, something big was going to happen.

“The Channel was extraordinary – I think you could have almost walked across the Channel because every boat was going across it.”

Gamper left the RAF in 1946, married and had two sons, David and Andrew. His career shifted as he retrained in advertising, working for Unilever, The Morgan Group and disability charity SCOPE before retiring with his wife to Dorset in 1983.

During his time working in advertising, he was able to travel extensively, most notably working in Nigeria, Ghana, and Sierra Leone for many years.

With a love of the outdoors and gardening, he moved to a cottage in Straiton, Ayrshire in the late 2000s, quickly falling in love with the conservation village’s natural charms and enjoying his close proximity to the seaside.

Since moving into the care home, he has been loving life, enjoying brilliant relationships with staff and fellow residents and he has been looking forward to finally celebrate his special day with his nearest and dearest, including his beloved son David who flew all the way from Montreal, Canada to be reunited with his father and bring in the happy day together.