Old friends from HMS Illustrious celebrate collecting honour together

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TOGETHER they served on HMS Illustrious and together they celebrated receiving their medals.

Friends Ian White, Jack Cant, Stan Stallard and Cliff Hardcastle spent Saturday reminiscing about their time on-board the aircraft carrier, as veterans of its 1982 personnel gathered at Portsmouth Guildhall to exchange memories.

REUNITED From left Ian White, Stan Stallard, Jack Cant and Cliff Hardcastle, with his son Tom, who was on the last draft of HMS Illustrious

REUNITED From left Ian White, Stan Stallard, Jack Cant and Cliff Hardcastle, with his son Tom, who was on the last draft of HMS Illustrious

They were joined by Cliff’s son Tom who was on the last draft of HMS Illustrious before it was decommissioned last year.

Cliff and Tom, from Southsea, enjoyed the reunion and Cliff said it was an honour to get the medal.

The 51-year-old said: ‘It’s a real honour to get recognition for the time spent on Illustrious.

‘It was something special stepping on to a brand new ship and a memory that will stay with me forever.’

THRILLED Abs Shirodkar and John Gibson

THRILLED Abs Shirodkar and John Gibson

He added: ‘It has been great to share with everyone being presented our medals because some of the guys I haven’t seen for 30 years.

‘It has been great catching up and see what everyone has been doing since Illustrious.’

For Jack, who served as Lieutenant Commander on the ship, it was good see then captain Admiral Sir Jock Slater.

The 76-year-old, from Dorset, said: ‘The whole day was a very good occasion and it was particularly nice to see Sir Jock.

‘To be presented our medals by the former captain was brilliant.’

He added: ‘When we left Newcastle in 1982, it was extremely busy on the ship and there wasn’t any room for people to make mistakes.

Stan, from Newcastle, agreed. He said: ‘I remember it being hectic on Illustrious and you hard to learn things quickly and then get on with it.

‘But that made it really interesting and exciting.’

Shipmates remember laughs on carrier during Falklands

LIVING more than 350 miles away makes it difficult for Abs Shirodkar and John Gibson to keep in touch.

So the medal ceremony was the perfect opportunity for them to catch-up and remember their times on HMS Illustrious.

Abs, who is from Portsmouth but recently moved to Newcastle, was not expecting to receive the South Atlantic Medal after 33 years since he served on the ship.

The 59-year-old said: ‘It was a real honour and something I didn’t expect.

‘Even without seeing everyone, the day was really special but having so many shipmates to celebrate with made it a great day.

‘When I saw people, all these memories came back to me and I remembered just how much of a laugh we had on-board.’

John, who lives in Poole, added: ‘The Falklands was my best time on board. The friendships formed were real bonds and we would just have a lot of fun. It’s been great catching up.’