Erskine has been charity partner of the Ideal Home Show Scotland for five years with this years’ show garden being in memory of ex-602 Squadron Corporal Joe Parker, who sadly passed away earlier this year.
Joe was a resident of The Erskine Home for 11 years and opened the Ideal Home Show in 2013 – the first year the charity partnered the show.
The garden celebrates and recognises the vital work of the Royal Air Force and was inspired by Joe and his story of flying home to Glasgow – the dear green place. The design signifies the exhausting and often very emotional flight from the battlefields to the green grass of home, following their journey over land and sea whilst honouring those who fell in battle.
The centrepiece of the garden is a replica WWII Spitfire in the Glasgow Squadron 602 colours which has been very generously given on loan from the RAFA at Leuchars. The plane will be suspended over the battlefields, the sand and the sea. There will be a wall behind the garden, with a backdrop of poppies on one side and a story of the garden’s conception on the other.
Joe Parker was born on 17th October 1920 in Shettleston in Glasgow. He served as a Corporal in the RAF for six years. Joe was stationed in 602 Glasgow City Squadron in Abbotsinch – the only member to have served in 602 throughout the war having joined the squadron in 1938 at what was then Abbotsinch Airfield and is now Glasgow Airport.
Joe served as an Aircraft Technician/Fitter working primarily on engines including the Rolls Royce Merlin that powered both the Spitfire and Hurricane. After the war, Joe completed his toolroom engineer apprenticeship. In the 1960’s he worked on the Prestwick Twin Pioneer and the single Pioneer. It was with great pride that Joe, and his boys and great grandson, flew in the ‘twin’ in 2005 on its 50th anniversary flight from Prestwick and over his home in Heathfield. This was his one and only occasion to have flown in the aircraft that he so enjoyed being part of.
Joe was Glasgow’s last surviving member from the Battle of Britain
Also displayed at the show above the Erskine plant market will be the model of a Twin Pioneer Aircraft which was the type of plane that Joe Parker himself worked on. This unique model has been kindly provided by BAE Systems in Prestwick for the show.
“My father proudly served in 602 Squadron maintaining a variety of Spitfire Aircraft. He often said that they were some of the best years of his life giving purpose and forming new friendships,” said Joe Parker (son of the late Joe Parker) who works in aerospace for BAE Systems. “In his later years he repeated similar words, but this time of ‘his home’ in Erskine where his long life was extended and expanded giving purpose with his Erskine family and friends. It was a joy to see dad enjoying life again supporting Erskine in their many fundraising campaigns – it seemed as though Erskine was meant for Joe, and Joe was meant for Erskine.”
Kirsten Graham, Corporate and Events Fundraising Manager at Erskine said: “Our ideas are inspired by our veterans, so the design for our garden comes from their lives and memories. It’s our chance to tell their story.”
“Each of our four homes have outdoor spaces where residents and their families can do their own gardening. We hope to replicate a similar environment over the weekend, using strong aloe vera and lavender, similar to those in sensory gardens.”
Volunteers from SPEnergy Networks will this year, just like the last four, play a pivotal role in building the garden. They move pallets, soil, turf, plants and construction equipment and take it to the SECC where they build the garden. SPEN’s Clyde District staff and apprentices have been involved, led by David Guthrie, Clyde District Manager, and team leader Ricky Foster. “It’s a real privilege for us to be involved,” said Ricky. “It shouldn’t be underestimated how important our support is to the construction of the Erskine stand and to the charity. Being involved gives everyone a chance to hear some of the incredible stories the veterans have to tell about their lives. Hearing it first-hand really brings to life what they have done.”
The Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneer was a British STOL (Short Take Off and Landing) transport aircraft designed and built at Prestwick on the West Coast of Scotland. It was conceived as a twin-engine version of the earlier Pioneer single engine light transport.
Designed to serve both military and civil operations, the aircraft could operate in an area of just 30 meters x 275 meters. A Twin Pioneer became the first commissioned aircraft for the newly formed Royal Malaysian Force in 1962. In the UK the Royal Air Force ordered 39 aircraft which were produced at Prestwick between 1958 and 1959. A total of 87 Twin Pioneers were built. Today BAE Systems Regional Aircraft is responsible for the engineering, continued airworthiness and product support for some 500 in- service BAE Systems-built turboprop and jet airliners.
The Ideal Home Show is a four day event opening on Friday (26th May) at the SECC in Glasgow.