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First home move at the age of 89 for one of housing association’s longest-serving tenants

An army veteran and British record holder from Wellington is settling into a new home after moving house for the first time at the age of 89.

David Hall grew up in a four-bed council property in Steventon Road, and while his siblings all married and flew the nest, he didn’t have the same desire to leave the family home.

After losing his parents, David took on the tenancy and stayed in the property when it was transferred to the Wrekin Housing Group upon its creation in 1999. He is now thought to be one of its longest-serving tenants.

It was only after a number of health scares in recent months that David decided it was time to downsize, and has now relocated to a bungalow in nearby Woodlands Avenue.

He said: “I was born in Chapel Lane but before I was one my mother got the house – they had just been built.”

However a childhood illness and time away with the army meant David did not spend much time at the house in his younger days.

When he was seven, David fell ill with tuberculosis and was sent to a specialist hospital in Cheshire – where he stayed for nine years.

He recalled: “They let me out when I was about 16 and I came back home to mother and the family.“I couldn’t even tell the time, I had had basically no schooling.“I had just come out and my dad died of pneumonia, so I lost my dad very early on.”

David started work, with ambitions of a career in electronics, but struggled due to his lack of formal education. Then at 17, he joined the army.“It was 18 for compulsory but I joined a bit before,” he said. “By joining voluntarily I got an extra 10 shillings on my wages.”

It meant David was away from home again, based at Copthorne Barracks in Shrewsbury with the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry.

He said: “I had spent so much time on my own it was nothing, really, for me to be away.“I thoroughly enjoyed it. Other lads were crying their eyes out saying they wanted to go home, but it didn’t bother me – I had had so much time away from home.”

David travelled to Germany with the battalion and later to Kenya, before making the decision to leave the army after 10 years.

However he was soon called back up and sent over to Egypt with the Royal Engineers during the Suez Crisis in 1956.

He said: “We found the waterworks company and we took it over, there were only three of us.“

My skills in electronics came in useful. The telephone exchange had been blown up and I got my knife and did a few of the wires, so we had communication.”

Upon his return to the UK, got a job at Coventry Gauge in Madeley and stopped on with the Territorial Army for seven years, this time as part of the Royal Signals.

He was sent to Birmingham for training on how to operate radio equipment – opening the door to what would become his great passion in life, amateur radio.

David turned a shed in the garden of the house into his own radio station, and studied at Walker Technical College and Bridgnorth Technical College to gain his certificate.

The hobby saw him claim seven British records, one of which still stands to this day.

Wanting to use his skills for good, David joined RAENet, the Radio Amateurs Emergency Network, which is called upon to assist with communications in emergencies – including one occasion when a light aircraft had crashed into the Wrekin.

He said: “The fire service went up there and they couldn’t communicate – their equipment wasn’t capable. So we moved in and offered communications between the top of the hill and the bottom.”

He has also helped provide radio communication for the annual Longmynd Hike on 50 occasions since its inception in 1967.

It was through amateur radio that he met his partner of 21 years, Patricia.In his later years, David worked for Mercedes-Benz, test driving cars all over the country, before retiring early to care for his mother until she passed away.

Living alone for the first time, David decided to stay in the family home and his siblings would regularly visit.

David said: “As we retired we used to meet at the house, I used to put biccies on every Wednesday. We never missed one.”

However, after three hospital stays in quick succession at the end of last year, David decided it was time to say goodbye to Steventon Road.

The housing team at Wrekin soon secured him the bungalow just around the corner from his old house, which he moved into in February.

David is now settling in to his new home, and the Wednesday catch ups with his surviving brothers, Martin and Robert, have relocated to the café at Oakwood retirement living complex nearby.

Reflecting on the move, David added: “I never moved out of the old house because I had no commitments in any other direction.

“I am getting used to this place now – but I don’t think I’ll be doing it again.”

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