Tributes to Gerald Drew, Spitfire pilot and Cleethorpes optician
THE son of a successful optician and former RAF pilot has paid tribute to his father – a caring and sensitive man with an incredible work ethic.
Gerald Drew, who set up Drew's Opticians – which has branches in Louth, Mablethorpe and Cleethorpes – died on Saturday, November 3, aged 87.
His son Jeremy, 59, lived next-door to his father, in Humberston Avenue, and became his busines partner in 1977 at what later became G J Drew and Partners.
Jeremy said: "He was my father, my business partner, my next-door neighbour and my best friend.
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"My father was a caring and sensitive man who loved his family but his ethic was to work, work, work, and that rubbed off on me."
Gerald Drew was born into a military family in Lucknow, India, on November 27, 1924, the middle of seven children.
He was educated at Sherwood College, Nainital, in the Himalayan Foothills, one of the country's best-known boarding schools, and the train journey to get to the school took Gerald seven days and nights.
Jeremy said that India and Sherwood College were Gerald's "first love" and he took away from the college a lifelong passion for art, poetry and mathematics.
He left school in 1943 and enlisted in the Royal Air Force, in which he flew the Kittyhawk, Hurricane and the famous Spitfire.
Jeremy added: "He used to tell stories about crash-landing his Kittyhawk in the desert with the wheels up and getting caught in a typhoon in his Hurricane, then coming out of it 50ft from the ground.
"On his 80th birthday, we took him to Goodwood, in Sussex, and he went up in an old Harvard plane. The pilot let him take the controls for half-an-hour and said he was the most natural pilot he had ever seen."
Mr Drew returned to India, via Egypt and Italy, where he became an officer commanding ferry flight Santa Cruz, Bombay and met commanding officer Harry Arden, of New Waltham, who later married Gerald's sister Vera.
In 1947 he was released from the Air Force and went to England for the first time, as he and his family joined the mass exodus of British citizens when India gained its independence.
Mr Drew went to Grimsby on the advice of his brother-in-law and met Muriel Bousfield, the daughter of a timber merchant, who he married at St James' Church, Grimsby, in 1949.
He got a job as a junior technician with Keelers, an optical manufacturing firm in London, and enrolled on a six-year course in Applied Optics and Ophthalmics at Northampton Polytechnic.
He qualified in 1956 and got a job with Harry Mosson at his practice in the city and Park Lane and in 1958, set up his own practice in Cambridge Street, Cleethorpes.
In 1983, he and Jeremy – who joined him in 1977 – expanded into Louth and Mablethorpe, where he practiced for another 30 years.
The memorial service for Gerald John Drew will take place at St Peter's Church, Humberston, on Monday, November 19, at 12pm.
For more local tributes, log on to www.thisisannouncements.co.uk. Family announcements can also be read on page 26 of today's paper.