AN 88-YEAR-OLD army veteran celebrated his wedding anniversary reliving his teenage soldier days by taking his wife for a trip in a tank.
Ron Pendry saw his dreams fulfilled when he returned to the controls of an Alvis Spartan armoured personnel carrier.
He drove his wife Violet around a military base in Banbury, Oxfordshire, in the eight-tonne British Army tank to mark the couple’s 57th wedding anniversary.
Ron said the trip brought back memories of his service days, which began 70 years ago when he joined the 9th Lancers in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, at the tender age of 18.
Ron, a resident at Goatacre Manor care home in Calne, Wiltshire, said: ‘It was quite emotional seeing the tank at first, especially when I got back inside after not having done so in so long.
‘Memories came flooding back and I loved every moment of it, especially the swerves and twists — that was a lot of fun.
‘I want to thank the team at Goatacre for helping me achieve something I never thought I’d get a chance to again. It’s been a special day.’
Ron worked across Europe, including Scotland and Germany, as a driver and tank instructor.
Despite enjoying his time in the army, Ron left in 1960 when he married Violet and became a lorry driver and later worked in a cattle feed mill.
But Ron had always dreamed of getting back in a tank, the highlight of his former career.
His wife, Violet, said: ‘It brought back a lot of memories for Ron, he’s really happy, bless him. He’s been talking about today for a long time so I’m so happy for him.’
Ron and Violet have two children, Pearl Russel and Steven Pendry, 16 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.
One granddaughter, Sarah Stevenson, proudly watched her grandad get back into the tank, which was built in 1979 and spent 37 years in active service in Iraq and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
She said: ‘I’m absolutely over the moon.
‘What a fitting way to end his career in the military. I can’t thank the Goatacre team enough for allowing grandad to drive a tank again. It’s just been such a brilliant day.’
Driver Mike Dex said said: ‘This is the first time we’ve helped an ex-military man in his 80s get back into a tank.
‘He’ll certainly go down in our record books as our oldest passenger.
‘It’s been a really fun day out and I’m so pleased we helped Ron complete his wish of driving a tank again.’
Steve Oswald, operations director and manager at Goatacre, said: ‘We are thrilled that Ron was able to have this amazing experience today.
‘He’s been waiting for this moment with anticipation ever since we revealed we were going to help him get into the driving seat of a tank again.
‘It was a moment he won’t forget, never mind us! It’s times like this that make working in the care sector priceless.’
In addition to fulfilling a lifelong ambition, Ron also used the event to help raise vital funds for Help for Heroes.
Anyone wishing to donate to Ron’s JustGiving page in aid of Help for Heroes, can do so here.