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Dick Richardson has worked at the airfield since 1987
A CAKE in the shape of a plane was a fitting feature of a retirement party for the long-serving manager of an airfield near Basingstoke.
Dick Richardson was hired by Charles Church, the former owner of Popham Airfield in 1987 – and he has played a key role in its life over the last 26 years.
Mr Church went to view a Lancaster Bomber at a museum in Waddington, where Mr Richardson was working, and negotiated a deal to buy the Bomber and bring Mr Richardson back with him.
Mr Richardson, now 74, was hired to set up and run the airfield museum, but tragedy struck in 1990 when Mr Church was killed when his Spitfire crashed.
His widow Suzie took over the airfield in his memory, and Mr Richardson was kept on as airfield manager.
He said: “It’s built up since. It’s now one of the most popular recreational airfields in the South of England.”
Popham’s Spitfire Flying Club now has 500 members and also attracts members of the public who watch the aircraft flying while enjoying a drink in the café.
A host of events are also held at the airfield, including the annual Starlight Escape Day at which seriously-ill children are given a treat including flying in helicopters.
Mr Richardson, who began his career in the Air Force in 1955 as an aircraft engineer, said: “I try to keep everyone happy all the time. We have events every month.
“When you run a recreational facility, people come here in their free time and they are happy so it makes the atmosphere happy and relaxed. There are a lot of nice people around.”
The father-of-three and grandfather-of-two, who lives in Barton Stacey, said he has no plans yet for his retirement.
His role is being taken on by Gerry Smith, a retired Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineer, who has moved from East Grinstead to take up the post.
The 59-year-old said: “I retired in 2009 and was looking for something and this came up. Someone said do you want to run an airfield, and I said, ‘why not?’.”
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