A FORMER flying ace and head boy of Ledbury Grammar School is set to celebrate his 100th birthday.

Michael Heaton, formerly of Ledbury, is celebrating his 100th birthday on Wednesday, May 29.

Michael, or more often known as Stuart, was educated at Ledbury Grammar School from 1933 to 1940, and became Head Boy.

The school was also the headquarters for the Air Training Corps which was to become a key influence in Stuart’s life.

Stuart’s parents, Arthur and Biddy Heaton were longtime residents of Ledbury, with Arthur being the editor of the Ledbury Reporter from 1928 to 1962.

Stuart is a former Head Chorister of St. Michael’s, and the Heaton Memorial Window, placed in the north aisle of the Parish of St. Michael and All Angels, Ledbury, was a gift to the church in memory of Stuart’s and his sister, Stella’s, parents.

It was dedicated at Michaelmas 1991.

Best wishes for Stuart’s birthday have come in from Jeremy Apted who lives in Queensland, Australia.

Stuart is a cousin of his late father, John Apted and also his godfather.

He said: “Stuart is often thought of by staff, councillors, and members of the public for his generous donation towards the works to the Ledbury War Memorial. The Ledbury Town Council have passed on their best wishes to him on his 100th birthday.

Jeremy said: “I live in Australia and want Stuart to have a fabulous birthday. I was thinking of putting together a collage of some sort and for it to be given to Stuart for his birthday. Sue Francis, also a relative, is arranging for a letter of congratulations from King Charles.”

Stuart now lives in Swiss Cottage, London, and his first cousin once removed, Sue Francis, who visits him said he was excited at being 100.

Stuart’s parents Arthur and Biddy were Sue’s great aunt and uncle.

Lee Marks and his wife, Gina, who live next door to Stuart in Swiss Cottage “kind of adopted him at the beginning of the pandemic and have been close ever since”.

Lee said: “As you know Michael was brought up in Ledbury where his father was editor of the local newspaper.

“At the age of 15 recruiters from the RAF visited his school to see who may be interested in joining the RAF when they reached the appropriate age.

"Michael was the sole volunteer and being excellent at Maths said he would like to become a navigator.

“When he became of age Michael was sent to Canada for training. He subsequently came back to England, joined a crew and became operational. He survived 22 missions and after the war he flew transport missions in India.

The top photo is Michael at the RAF Club on Bomber Command Memorial Day (An annual event).

The 2nd photo is Michael’s original RAF navigators uniform.

3rd photo is Michael at a fund raising event at the RAF museum in Hendon.

4th photo is with Chief Air Marshal Sir Mike Wigston (I believe he has now stepped down from