Sunset memorial ceremony planned at RAF reunion on Thorney Island

A REUNION of RAF servicemen is set to honour the death of a former technician and ‘smashing fellow’ with a sunset ceremony on Thorney Island.

By Richard Lemmer
Monday, 6th May 2019, 2:59 pm
Updated Monday, 6th May 2019, 3:03 pm
Martin Shuker at his wedding in 2017
Martin Shuker at his wedding in 2017

A reunion of RAF servicemen is set to honour the death of its founder with a sunset ceremony on Thorney Island. 

Martin Shuker, a former air frame technician, died in January this year after developing pancreatic and liver cancer.

He was 71.

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John McGregor, left, and Martin Shuker, the founders of the RAF Thorney Island airbase reunion

Martin and his friend John McGregor founded the annual reunion for RAF Thorney Island airbase servicemen at Thorney Island Sailing Club in 2012, with more than 60 ex-servicemen attending. 

John, 70, said: ‘Our time serving on Thorney Island was full of wine, women, and song.

‘Martin once described it like being at Butlins – in fact, we used to get in there under the fence and chase young women.

‘It was an idyllic time.’

After serving in the air force for 12 years, Martin joined Hampshire Constabulary - a move John described as ‘poacher turning game keeper’, and ended up working at Fratton police station as a detective inspector. 

Fellow former serviceman Peter Cox, who was the standard bearer of the RAF emblem at Martin’s funeral service in Worthing, said his friend was ‘a smashing fellow’ and a ‘very good footballer’.

He said: ‘You never went in to tackle him.’

John added: ‘He was a warrior on the field.’ 

Martin was instrumental in setting up the reunion, securing access to the venue via Baker Barracks, which is on the site of the former RAF airbase. 

The pair had the idea for a reunion following the publication of John’s memoirs, titled Fairy Tales of an SAC. 

A ‘fairy’ is RAF slang for a servicemen who works with radios. 

Martin spent his retirement volunteering at Tangmere Military Aviation Museum

John said: ‘Martin was a very good friend. 

‘He was like the big brother I never had. 

‘He looked after me in the RAF.’ 

The reunion will be held on Saturday May 11, at midday at Thorney Island Sailing Club.

John said: ‘Anyone who has an RAF connection with Thorney from those days is very welcome to attend, but clearance is needed first, so anyone wishing to come can contact me on [email protected] or 0034 6000 88341 so we can get them through the guarded barrier on the day.’