Famous Faces


A signed photograph from Geoffrey Paddison to 2030 Squadron.

David Hughes (born Geoffrey Paddison, 11 October 1929 – 19 October 1972) was an English-born popular singer of Welsh extraction who became an opera singer.

The popular tenor

Paddison was born in Bournbrook, Birmingham, England of Welsh parents. As a child he listened to records by Caruso. He found work as a clerk, and was invited to sing “On the Road to Mandalay” at an office concert. This was so well received that he started taking professional singing lessons. In 1945 he joined the RAF and sang on ZBW in Kowloon, the armed forces’ radio station. At this time he was singing Bing Crosby songs. In 1947 he received a grant to study singing at Wigmore Hall.

After that he studied at the Royal Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. He had an early break in 1948 appearing with Ginger Rogers and Lizabeth Webb in Carissima, a West End musical. In 1951 he appeared on Henry Hall’s “Guest Night”. He was introduced by Hall as “the young Welsh tenor”. This prompted him to take his stage name “David Hughes”, an archetypical Welsh name. He appeared often in the 1950s on television and radio. These shows included Presenting David Hughes, Sunday Night at the London Palladium and Make Mine Music (1959). In 1954, while touring Australia, he met and married Ann Sullivan. He appeared in the stage show Summer Song in 1956, a biographical musical about Anton Dvorak’s visit to the United States. Sally Ann Howes was the female lead. In 1956 he had his only hit in the UK Singles Chart, “By The Fountains of Rome”. The composer was Mátyás Seiber and the lyrics by Norman Newell, who also wrote hits for Ken Dodd (“Promises”, 1966), Shirley Bassey (“Never Never Never”, 1973) and Matt Monro (“Portrait of My Love”, 1960). Hughes participated in the UK heat of the Eurovision Song Contest in 1960, A Song For Europe, finishing in second place with the song “Mi Amor”.

The opera singer

Shortly after appearing in the musical Seagulls Over Sorrento (1962) he moved into opera. He sang at Glyndebourne and with Sadler’s Wells and Welsh National operas. Sir John Barbirolli conducted Verdi’s “Requiem” several times, with Hughes singing. He earned a reputation as a thorough professional, popular with colleagues. His most famous role was as Lieutenant Pinkerton in Madam Butterfly.

On 8 October 1972, he fell ill while singing the part of Pinkerton at the London Coliseum. He collapsed in the wings near the end but managed to complete the final scene. He died the following day, from heart failure. Just before the ambulance men took him out of the theatre he said “I didn’t let them down, did I?”


Another David Hughes (1919–1989), born in Wales, was also a classical tenor.


Popular songs

– “By the Fountains of Rome” (single) (1956) Charted at #27

– Here in My Heart (compilation)

– The Best of David Hughes (compilation)

– Great British Song Stylist (compilation)

Stage musicals

– “Summer Song” (1956)

– “Plain and Fancy”

– “Here in My Heart”

Classical music

– “16 – 18th Century Songs of Love”

– “Favourite Opera/ Operetta Arias and Songs You Love”

– “The Merry Widow”



Sir Robert TAYLOR

 Sir Robert Taylor, who died aged 75, masterminded the transformation in the 1980s of the regional airport at Elmdon into Birmingham International Airport.

Taylor served in the RAF as a pilot before electing, in 1973, to take early retirement. He was appointed assistant director at Birmingham Airport in 1974, when its future was uncertain.

Two years later he became the airport’s director and was in charge of the successful transfer of the terminal from Elmdon to the rapidly expanding site of today.

When, in 1987, the airport was taken out of local authority ownership and became the Birmingham Airport Company, Taylor became managing director. This coincided with his appointment as chairman of the national Airport Operators’ Association.

Four years later he oversaw the opening of Birmingham’s Eurohub, the world’s first airport terminal to combine domestic and international passengers. By the time Taylor retired in 1994, Birmingham Airport’s international status was firmly established.

Robert Richard Taylor was born in Birmingham on June 14 1932 and educated at the city’s Yardley Grammar School. As an 18-year-old he joined the RAF as a cadet pilot, completing his flying training in 1952.

Taylor specialised in photographic reconnaissance, serving first on No 13 Squadron at Kabrit, in Egypt, flying the Meteor. He arrived in September 1952, a few months after the “colonels’ revolt” had taken place, and tension in the region was high. In March 1954 he spent some time in Kenya during the Mau Mau crisis, providing intelligence and photographs.

After returning to Britain in 1955 Taylor became a flying instructor before converting to the Canberra photographic reconnaissance aircraft and joining No 31 Squadron at Laarbruch in Germany in 1958. Three years later he returned to instructing on the Canberra at Bassingbourn, near Royston. He was an extremely effective and popular instructor who extracted the best from his pupils.

Taylor returned to an operational squadron in July 1964 when he was appointed a flight commander on No 81 Squadron, based in Singapore. Over the next two years he flew many photographic sorties in support of operations during the Indonesian Confrontation. These included the Borneo survey, mapping for Army operations and intelligence gathering flights. He was awarded a Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Services in the Air.

After a two-year period as the RAF’s school liaison officer in the West Midlands, Taylor returned to Canberras in November 1969 when he assumed command of No 231 Operational Conversion Unit, a post he held until March 1972. For these services he was appointed MBE. In June 1973 he retired, starting his career at Birmingham Airport a year later.

In the early 1980s Taylor was involved in a motor accident which left him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life; but he never allowed this to inhibit his heavy work schedule or his enthusiasm for life.

He was a council member of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce from 1989 to 1994, when he became chairman of BRMB Radio and a director of Capital Radio, an appointment he held for six years. He served on the disabled persons’ transport advisory committee for five years and was president of the Birmingham branch of the Aircrew Association. He was awarded an Honorary LLB by Birmingham University in 1998.

After serving as a Deputy Lieutenant of the West Midlands he was appointed in 1993 to be Lord Lieutenant, a post he held until 2006, when ill health forced him to retire early. He was appointed OBE in 1989, KStJ in 1994 and KCVO in 2006.

Taylor’s effervescence and larger-than-life personality made him an immensely popular and respected businessman and colleague. He was equally at ease on formal occasions and on the workshop floor, which he would visit regularly to familiarise himself with the issues that preoccupied the workforce.

Bob Taylor died on June 7 2008. He married, in 1957, Sheila Welch, who survives him.

Obituary originally published by the Telegraph.





George ALLEN

The Squadron football team 1948. George Allen is in the back row, third from the right.

George Allen played football for the Squadron, Wing and at Corps level. George was the full back for Birmingham City football club between 1952-61, he was a member of the blue’s side which won the second division championship in 1955.

Allen was born in Small Heath, Birmingham. A strong-tackling left-back, he joined Coventry City as an amateur whilst in the army without making any first-team appearances. In November 1952, he joined Birmingham City on a free transfer, making his league debut the following season on 19 April 1954 in a second division game against Nottingham Forest at St Andrew’s which ended 2–2. The form of established full-back pairing Ken Green and Jeff Hall meant Allen was unable to establish himself as a regular in the side, making only 30 appearances in his first seven years at the club. When Green sustained the injury which eventually forced his retirement, Allen took his place and kept it until suffering a fractured skull in 1961. On his recovery, he could not regain his place in the side, mainly due to the form of Graham Sissons. After almost ten years at the club, and 165 games in all competitions, he joined Torquay United in January 1962, following in the footsteps of Birmingham team mate Gordon Astall who had made the same move six months earlier.

He made his Torquay debut in a 4–2 home win over Hull City on 20 January 1962 and was ever-present for the remainder of the season. The following season, he missed just one game as Torquay finished sixth in Division Four. He began the 1963–64 season out of the side, Frank Austin beginning the season at left-back in his place. However, after three games of the season, Allen regained his place, with Austin switching to right-back in place of Colin Bettany. Allen went to play in 40 league games that season, as well as all three of Torquay’s cup ties. He began the 1964–65 season as a regular, but lost his place to Tony Hellin late in the season.

In 1965 he moved to north Devon side Bideford, who played in the Western League. He had played 134 league games for Torquay.

This information was published on Wikipedia 2012.






Matthew Croucher

Matthew Croucher who was an Air Cadet with Warwickshire and Birmingham Wing before joining the Royal Marines has been awarded the George Cross for his heroic actions whilst serving in Afghanistan.
At a ceremony in London, Chief of the Defence Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup confirmed that Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher, aged 24, and former member of 2030 (Elmdon & Yardley) Squadron from Birmingham, is to receive the George Cross in recognition of his extraordinary bravery.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup said: “Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher showed extraordinary bravery, self-sacrifice and devotion to duty. He acted to save his comrades in the almost certain knowledge that he would not himself survive. His exemplary behaviour and supreme heroism are fully deserving of the nation’s highest recognition.”
On 9 February 2008, Royal Marine Reservist, Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher of 40 Commando was serving with the Commando Reconnaissance Force in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. During a search of a suspect Taliban compound Lance Corporal Croucher felt a wire go tight against his legs. This was a trip-wire connected to a grenade booby-trap, positioned to kill or maim. With extraordinary clarity of thought Matthew warned his comrades to find cover before throwing himself over the grenade. As it detonated, his backpack and protective clothing absorbed the blast effect of the grenade. Miraculously, he suffered only minor injury and disorientation from the effects of the blast.
During a recent BBC interview Lance Corporal Croucher said: “All I could do in the moment was shout out ‘grenade’ before diving on top of it. It was incredible, I escaped with only a nose bleed and a headache.”
His mother Margaret Croucher, a teacher in Birmingham, said she got three text messages from him while he was away, one of which read: “Being put forward for a citation, might meet the Queen.”
She said: “Obviously I was very intrigued but we didn’t get the full story until he got back and we read about it in the papers. I am obviously immensely proud but it was a typical act from him. It was not the first time he had put his life at risk.” His father, Richard, described him as “a very lucky man.”
The George Cross ranks with the Victoria Cross as the nation’s highest award for gallantry. It is awarded ‘for acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger’. Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher is expected to receive his honour from the Queen at Buckingham Palace in the autumn.
On behalf of Warwickshire and Birmingham Wing we would like to congratulate Lance Corporal Croucher on the award of his George Cross. We are immensely proud of Matthew and his actions. We would also like to express our wish for the safety and wellbeing of many of our other former cadets who are currently on active service. In many ways we hope that they themselves will never have to face the danger endured by Matthew.
Images: L/Cpl Matthew Croucher with his backpack, torn by the grenade




Peter Jackson was a local boy, he lived in Rockingham Road which is just behind Hobmoor Road School, his father was an RAF Flight Lieutenant. Young Jackson was a superb athlete and when he left school he joined Coventry rugby union football club.

Peter Jackson (1930-2004) is a former England rugby union international who played for Coventry and Warwickshire for many years.

He earned the nickname ‘Nijinsky’ after the Russian ballet dancer. He was devastating when he had the ball to hand and could sidestep or outpace a defender with equal facility.

He scored three tries in the 1957 Five Nations Championship and helped England to their first Grand Slam since the Twenties.

In 1958 against Australia at Twickenham, he demonstrated his mastery of the feint to score a dazzling match-winning try. He then amazed the All Blacks on the 1959 Lions tour, scoring 16 tries in 14 games. He was described by one journalist as ‘the zaniest runner of all time’.

Peter Jackson suffered a stroke in the early months of 2003 and was hospitalised where he later suffered another stroke in the summer of 2003. He died in hospital in March 2004.