I WISH to pay tribute to Wing Commander J.Harvey Heyworth, of Altham Lodge, Papplewick, who died 50 years ago on September 21 1959. He was aged 49.
A former Battle Of Britain pilot, Wing Commander Heyworth became the first man in the world to record 1,000 hours in a jet aircraft.
The story of this remarkable, larger-than-life airman is described in Robert Jackson's book, 'Men Of Power, The Lives Of Rolls-Royce Chief Test Pilots Harvey And Jim Heyworth', published in 2006 and available from Haywood's, on Watnall Road in Hucknall.
Tall and strikingly handsome, Wing Commander Heyworth was a very popular and well-respected figure in Papplewick and district for some 20 years and was admired for his impeccable grooming.
Some older Papplewick residents have happy memories of him starting the local firework display on Bonfire Night by firing a flare gun.
A former sidesman at St James's Church, he was a superb tennis player and also played for Papplewick and Linby Cricket Club in the early 1950s.
It is interesting to recall that one of his ancestors, Lawrence Heyworth, the radical MP for Derby, had a daughter, Laurencia. One of Laurencia's nine children by her husband Richard Potter, a Victorian railway magnate, became the mother of Sir Stafford Cripps (1889-1952), who became Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1947.
After becoming Rolls-Royce chief test pilot, Wing Commander Heyworth went on to test the thrust measuring rig – better known as the 'Flying Bedstead' – which was an essential step in the development of the vertical take-off Harrier.
Many years after Wing Commander Heyworth's death, I met his great friend, the late Joseph Perkins, of Old Fayling, Papplewick, who deeply admired his courage and determination after suffering a severe cerebral haemorrhage in the mid-1950s. A further stroke led to his early death in September 1959.
The inscription on his headstone in the churchyard at Papplewick reads: 'In loving memory of John Harvey Heyworth, born March 20 1910, died September 21 1953. None knew thee but to love thee. None named thee but to praise'.