Former Wigan care home resident takes to the skies to fulfil his dream

Ian Hamilton and fellow Montrose Hall Care Home resident Jimmy Houghton
Ian Hamilton and fellow Montrose Hall Care Home resident Jimmy Houghton

A pensioner was once again flying high after a Wigan care home made his dream of taking off in an aeroplane again come true.

Ian Hamilton enjoyed an hour-long flight in a two-seater aircraft which included circling over the borough and Montrose Hall Care Home where he lived.

The 82-year-old, who is battling dementia, took off from City Airport at Barton near Manchester in a plane owned by a friend of one of the care home’s employees.

Mr Hamilton expressed his desire to fly once again after talking to a Montrose Hall staff member about his career in the RAF.

And, thanks to the link between an employee and the aviation enthusiast, the Sherwood Crescent facility was able to make the wish a reality.

Home manager Kim Jones said: “I showed Ian some pictures afterwards and he was really happy, talking about the airfield and saying he would like to take to the sky again.

“He was elated at the airfield and talked about his days of flying an aircraft. It brought back a lot of memories.

“They flew over Montrose Hall and when I was talking to him pointed to the trees outside and made a circular motion with his finger.

“It’s important to us to give the residents what they ask for so they continue to experience life outside the care home.

“Just because someone has dementia doesn’t mean life is over, it just means they are on a different path.

“If they still have aspirations we would love to help them achieve them.

“It also motivates the staff more and gives them a sense of fulfilment and pride.”

Mr Hamilton was accompanied to the airfield by two members of staff from Montrose Hall and fellow resident James Houghton, who he has struck up a close friendship with.

Mr Hamilton wore his medals from his time on the front line in the armed forces on the day as well.

Born in Newcastle, he first joined the Merchant Navy after leaving school at 15 but moved into the ranks of the RAF when he was 18.

He trained to become an air electronics officer and his first active service involved shadowing Russian ships heading for Cuba.

He climbed to the rank of flight lieutenant and his career included travel to Cyprus, Malaysia, Singapore and Northern Ireland.

A member of the Blue Steel Bombing Crew, Mr Hamilton’s work for his country has been recognised by the Queen and a commendation from Her Majesty hangs in pride of place in his room at Montrose Hall.

From speaking to Mr Hamilton the staff have also been learning about his time in politics with the Liberal Democrat party in Bolton.

Kim said: “Information like this is great for us because it gives us more of a focal point for things to talk to him about.

“It has been enlightening, not just for him but also for us. It’s important we know as much about our residents’ history as possible.”