We know grannies are ‘boss’ but as they grow older we learn to expect less and less from them due to their fragile health. However, there are those feisty ones, who seem to be able to do just about anything. But seeing a 99-year-old granny taking to the skies is just about the coolest thing one could ever see.
Kate Orchard, 99, who lives in Camborne, Cornwall, took off from the Seahawk Gliding Club, RNAS Culdrose, near Helston. Watched on by her family on the ground, Mrs Orchard said she felt like she just wanted “to fly away”.
The former warrant officer said to able to do this at her age made her feel she had achieved something. Mrs Orchard was raising money for Help for Heroes in doing the flight.
“I believe passionately that it’s very important that all ex-military personnel are looked after. Especially those unfortunate enough to have physical or psychological injuries,” she said.
John Carpenter, area fundraising manager, said: “Kate is a truly amazing lady, full of spirit – but I suppose we should expect nothing less of the generation that served us so well during our darkest days.
“We can only thank her from the bottom of our hearts.
Mrs Orchard’s role during the war was as a plotter. It was her responsibility to record sightings of enemy aircraft allowing friendly forces to be directed against them.
She was born into a large Anglo-Indian family of 13 brothers and sisters, with her father working as a chief telegraph inspector on the Indian railways.
In 1941 India created the Women’s Auxiliary Corps (India), recruiting women to help the war effort and then 20-year-old Mrs Orchard and two of her sisters volunteered.
A year later she was working in the Air Defence Centre, Number 5 Filter Room in Madras, alongside both the RAF and the Indian Air Force, as a plotter/teller on 24-hour watches, plotting aircraft targets and sending signals to the air warning systems.
She also met her husband, Bill, during the war who was serving in India with the Royal Artillery before he was later sent to Burma.
After the war, in 1946, the couple moved to Mr Orchard’s home in Cornwall.