Tributes to RAF hospital commanding officer Sir John Baird

Sir John Baird at Viva Arts, Soham.

Sir John Baird at Viva Arts, Soham. - Credit: Archant

I was very saddened to see the announcement of the death of Sir John Baird at the age of 83, although I knew that he had been ill for some while.

Sir John Baird at Viva Arts, Soham.

Sir John Baird at Viva Arts, Soham. - Credit: Archant

I first met Sir John when he came to Ely, with his wife Mary, in, I believe early 1987, to be commanding officer at the Royal Air Force Hospital.

During his stay as CO we had the visit of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1988 and the renaming of the hospital.

After he left Ely, although he remained living in the area with Mary, the Hospital was closed by the Ministry of Defence much to his disgust and against his advice. He went on to end a most distinguished career as Surgeon General to the Armed Forces from 1997 – 2000. Such was the esteem with which both of them were held locally that Baird Lodge was named after them.

While John could be quiet and thoughtful, Mary was ebullient and outward going, no more so that when we saw them involved with Viva Theatre in Soham. They were very active supporters and gave annual awards in their names that the recipients could keep in the form of a Scottish quaich. Always sociable they were great company and enlivened any Viva gathering.

With the hospital redevelopment plans in the news, it is right that we remember the RAF officers and personnel who made what was such a wonderful hospital that we were privileged to be able to use and still miss.


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