'Sandy' joined the RAF at 15 - tributes
Warm tributes have been paid to long-serving RAF serviceman and well-known Dereham man Laurence Sandford, who has died aged 73.Mr Sandford - known as Sandy - joined the force on his 15th birthday and spent 43 years serving in various parts of the world and took the flag down when Swanton Morley closed as an RAF station.
Warm tributes have been paid to long-serving RAF serviceman and well-known Dereham man Laurence Sandford, who has died aged 73.
Mr Sandford - known as Sandy - joined the force on his 15th birthday and spent 43 years serving in various parts of the world and took the flag down when Swanton Morley closed as an RAF station.
He got a commendation in the New Year's Honours in 1987, and in the same year received his warrant from the Queen while he was stationed at Marham.
Mr Sandford was based on Christmas Island in 1958 while nuclear tests were carried out and took a picture of the Grapple Explosion,
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He was diagnosed six months ago with spinal cancer and as he was coming out of radiotherapy he saw another former serviceman who had been on Christmas Island.
His time on the Pacific Ocean island directly contributed to him contracting cancer, Mr Sandford's son Paul said. 'He did not want any fuss made and never complained.'
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Mr Sandford rose to the position of head of the non-destructive testing school and was pioneer
of a large number of testing techniques.
After he left the RAF, he bought a chip shop at the Pinewoods caravan site at Wells, which he ran for about five years. He also did security jobs and up until two months ago was delivering bread for North Elmham Bakery.
Mr Sandford - who died on Christmas Day and had two children Fiona and Paul and four grandchildren Martha, Betsy, Ben and Verity - loved all sports and was a keen Dereham Town supporter. He had also run a football team at RAF Swanton Morley and was in a combined services cricket team with legendary England bowler Freddie Trueman.
Leading tributes to his father, Paul said: 'Everyone said he was a gentleman. People who he worked with said he had shaped them into the people they are now.'
Mr Sandford's funeral service is at Colney Wood Burial Park tomorrow at 2pm. A coach leaves for the funeral from Aldiss Park in Dereham at 1.15pm.
There will be a tribute flypast over Colney Wood by aircraft from RAF Marham at 2.50pm.