Tributes to air cadet leader

James Robert Williams receives his MBE from the Queen in 1991

James Robert Williams receives his MBE from the Queen in 1991

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Tributes have been paid to a great-grandfather who ‘influenced generations of air cadets’.

Retired Flight Lieutenant James Robert Williams was the oldest squadron leader in the Air Training Corps (ATC) when he retired, and was awarded an MBE in 1991.

The 86-year-old died at Blackpool Victoria Hospital last week after a six-year battle with dementia.

Air cadets and staff from 177 Squadron, based at Blackpool Airport, will honour Mr Williams at his funeral, set to be held at Lytham Crematorium at 10.30am today.

Flt Lt Andrew Nickson from 177 Squadron said: “Jim influenced generations of cadets. He was unique and will never be matched.

“He made sure they enjoyed themselves, had a good time, and went on to bigger and better things.”

Mr Williams’ family moved from Coventry to Colne in east Lancashire, when he was a schoolboy. He joined the Air Cadets at 13 and, after leaving school, became a mechanic.

He also served on the council in the 60s, responsible for the upkeep of the town’s parks.

After marrying Marjorie, the pair had three children, Susan, now 65, Carol, 62, and Marjorie, 60, and moved to Blackpool in 1969.

As well as 177 Squadron, Mr Williams, of Common Edge Road, also served as squadron commander at 967 Squadron, at BAE in Warton, and the now defunct 2501 Squadron, which was based on the former ICI site in Thornton.

He was credited with securing 177’s current HQ at the airport, the largest in Cumbria and Lancashire.

He also ran Dewpoint Storage in Division Lane, Marton, alongside daughter Marjorie, who now plans to sell up.

Marjorie said her father was “very well liked and popular.”

Mr Williams re-married following the death of his wife in 1991 and retired from the ATC around 12 years ago.

He is also survived by step-daughters Rachel and Sarah, and several grand and great-grandchildren.