On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the Country falls silent. It is a day of reflection, a day where nations pause to remember the sacrifices of those who lost their lives. In the silent moments of remembrance, we come together to pay tribute to the heroes who have walked the path of duty and pay tribute to those who are no longer with us today. Their stories are a testament to the strength and courage our nation has and we are honoured to share with you Alan Edward William’s story, a man with such dedication to his service and who now lives at Heanton Nursing Home in Barnstaple, North Devon.
Alan’s journey through life had been a remarkable one, born on the 11th June 1928 in the bustling City of Cardiff, his name connected him to great aviators and royalty. On that very day, Alan Cobham a famous aviator and Edward Prince of Wales were visiting Cardiff hence why he was called Alan Edward by his parents. His early years was filled with so much love and joy, growing up with his older sister, Joan.
After leaving school, Alan found himself working at Cardiff Docks as a riveter and as he reached the age of 17, he made the decision to join the First Battalion Welsh Guards in 1946. Alan’s military service spanned 22 years, and he cherished every moment of it. He participated in prestigious ceremonial duties, including Trooping the Colour, changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, and even lining the route for Winston Churchill’s Funeral. He had lived in various locations during his service, from Surrey to Cardiff, London to Malaysia, with a brief stop in Borneo while in Malaya.
Alan’s life took an unexpected turn when he met his wife, Gladys during a holiday in Appledore. They married in 1950 and went on to have four children: David, Teresa, Gwyn, and Ceinwin (known as Kim), each born in different corners of the world. Life abroad had been a rich tapestry of experiences for Alan and his wife Gladys. In Libya and Malaysia, Alan enjoyed swimming and exploring Roman cities, he especially loved savouring new cuisines. In Malaya, he developed a passion for collecting butterflies and mounting them in glass display cases.
After retiring from the army in the early 1990s, Alan took on a new role as a security guard at Llanwern steelworks in Newport, while residing in Chepstow. He remained closely connected to the royal world as a Yeoman of the Guards, participating in events like Charles and Diana’s wedding and the opening of Parliament.
As Alan and his beloved wife Gladys embraced retirement, they embarked on numerous adventures together, creating cherished memories around the globe. Alan’s pride shone through in his possession of a Royal Victoria Medal, a symbol of his dedication and service.
Alan and Gladys family continued to grow, as they welcomed six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren into their life. Though Alan had faced the loss of his beloved wife, Gladys in December 2020 and the sudden loss of his sight in 2021, his brave spirit remained unwavering.
Alan’s life has been full of remarkable experiences and unwavering dedication, and although Alan now lives with Dementia at Heanton Nursing Home, his commitment to his services still shines through. With the support from the team, Alan is able to maintain his disciplined routine, including having a clean shave every day, a practice he has upheld throughout his life. This seemingly simple act of shaving holds great significance, as it was a vital part of his military routine. For someone with Dementia, the familiarity of this daily ritual is crucial, as it provides a sense of continuity and comfort. Each person at Heanton will have different support needs, different life story, and by understanding this life history, we are able to create a home that enables our family members to live a true continuation of life.
For Alan, Heanton is not just a place of residence, but a home where his commitment to his service is remembered and celebrated by everyone around him. Within these memories lies the essence of who Alan is, a testament to a life lived passionately through his years of service for his country.