Mayor Trevor Lunn presents Hedley
Downton Ex RAF, Citizen of Newfoundland
with a drinks set at a reception in the
Mayor's Parlour on Thursday August 10.
US33-104A0 Picture By: Aidan O'Reilly
LISBURN welcomed a very special visitor to
the city last week when the Mayor, Councillor Trevor Lunn, held
a reception for war veteran Hedley Downton.
88-year-old Hedley, known to his friends and
family as 'Blinkers', although no-one can quite remember where
the nickname comes from, paid a visit to the city to see his
A native of Grand Falls in Newfoundland,
'Blinkers' travelled to Britain in 1938 as the world teetered on
the brink of war.
He was so determined to join the war effort
that he endured an 11-day journey on a boat from Grand Falls to
London; quite a difference to the recent five-hour flight he
made across the Atlantic.
With a choice of joining the Royal Canadian
Air Force, the US Air force or the Royal Air Force, he decided
to make his career in the RAF.
During the war he served in Aldergrove and it
was while stationed there that he met his wife, local girl
He was also stationed in various posts in
England, Gibraltar and Freetown, South Africa.
On his return home after the war he was a
volunteer fire-fighter for 25 years, as well as holding down his
day job in the paper mill around which the town of Grand Falls
On August 28, 1963 Hedley stood in the eighth
row in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC as Martin
Luther King delivered his historic speech 'I have a dream'.
At just five foot tall, Hedley may not have
been seen by television viewers at the time, but he was there
and has the home movies to prove it.
As a lifetime member of the Royal Canadian
Legion, he is Central Area Director of 125 Newfoundland Night
Fighter Squadron and he visits local Legions on his return
visits to Northern Ireland, accompanied by his son Kieran.
Whilst in Lisburn, Hedley was presented with a
gift of crystal by the Mayor, during his visit to the Civic
Centre; something he says will go with him to the grave.
Hedley returns home at the end of August and
feels that this may be his last visit to meet his extended
family in Lisburn and Belfast. However, his family are hopeful
that he will return again.
Ex RAF Hedley Downton, Citizen
of Newfoundland & family at a reception in the
Mayor's Parlour on Thursday August 10 with
Lisburn Mayor Trevor Lunn. US33-103A0