Padre Stan finally retires… aged 92

Padre Stan Jones, the Officiating Chaplain to RAF Benson, has finally retired from serving in and alongside the Armed Forces at the age of 92.

Stan volunteered for the Royal Navy to undertake his National Service and explains “much to my dismay was balloted and forced to work in the coalmines.” He was finally presented with his Bevin Boy badge in recognition of this Service in 2008, which was proudly presented by the  former Commander of Joint Helicopter Command, Rear-Admiral Tony Johnstone-Burt in a special ceremony at RAF Benson.

In 1960, Stan was appointed as Officiating Chaplain to RAF Middleton St George, which was to begin his extraordinarily long service alongside the Royal Air Force. While serving at RAF Middleton St George, which is now Teesside Airport, Stan was also asked to serve at RAF Catterick. In 1974 he moved to Alnwick and took on the role of Officiating Chaplain to RAF Boulmer. Further moves saw Stan serve in Harrogate during the 1980s before moving south and taking up what was to be his final post as Officiating Chaplain to RAF Benson in 1994.

Stan was forced to retire by his family after they banned him from continuing to drive earlier  this year. Last week he returned to RAF Benson for one last service, which was held over a three course meal in the Officers’ Mess and saw Stan being presented with a special painting of RAF Benson past and present, originally commissioned for the Station’s 75th anniversary.

As well as providing pastoral support for RAF Benson personnel for over 2 decades, Stan has been an integral part of daily life on the Station including the delivery of Christmas services and christenings. Amongst his more bizarre tasks, Stan also donned a festive red suit and white beard to officially light the Christmas tree, much to the delight of the children gathered outside the Station church.

Stan may well be longest serving chaplain the RAF has known, and indeed may be the longest serving member of the Armed Forces family. He was also one of the few who have become members of the ‘ten ton club’, having flown at over 1000mph in a Lightning, a supersonic fighter aircraft of the Cold war era.

Group Captain Simon Paterson, Station Commander at RAF Benson, was thrilled to present Padre Stan with his paintings and bid him a fond farewell on behalf of the thousands of RAF families that Stan has supported over the years. He said: “It was my absolute honour to formally thank Stan for his outstanding and unerring commitment to the Armed Forces for so  many years. He has offered friendship, support and guidance to many thousands of Service personnel and their families and he will be greatly missed by all. We wish him all the best in his well-earned retirement and extend our grateful thanks to the Jones family, especially his wife Muriel, for sharing him with us for so long.”

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