Hastings veterans bid farewell to squadron leader

Reg Holdstock. Picture by Frank Copper
Reg Holdstock. Picture by Frank Copper

Family, friends and veterans said their farewells to a former squadron leader on Thursday (December 1).

Reg Holdstock, 78, who was born in Hastings, died on November 10 at his home in Hailsham after a short illness.

Standard bearers at the service at Eastbourne Crematorium. Photo by Frank Copper

Standard bearers at the service at Eastbourne Crematorium. Photo by Frank Copper

Members of Hastings and St Leonards Veterans Association, including standard bearers and members of the 1066 branch of the Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA), attended the celebration of Reg’s life at Eastbourne Crematorium, as well as the Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, Peter Field, members of several other RAFA branches, and many officers and cadets of the Sussex Wing of the Air Training Corps (ATC), including 304 (Hastings) Squadron.

Reg, who was born in 1938, joined the RAF section of the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) and the Hastings Seagulls Swimming Club while at school.

He then joined the GPO, then served his National Service with the RAF in Iraq and Cyprus and, on his release, he returned to the GPO and volunteered as a civilian with the ATC.

He was commissioned into the RAFVR(T) in 1968 and moved to command 304 (Hastings) Sqn. He was promoted to Wing Staff at Sussex Wing as the sports officer in 1978. By 1986 he took up the post of physical education officer for London and the South East region. He retired from that role in 1996 and moved into the Civilian Governance side of the Corps as chairman of 2351 (Bognor Regis) Sqn. After two years he became Sussex Wing chairman and then chairman of 249 (Hailsham) Sqn, holding these two posts until his death.

All the time he was with the ATC, Reg also remained associated with the Hastings and Sussex Swimming clubs, closely involved with the County Water Polo as team manager, selector, secretary, chairman and Sussex county president. Reg was also an enthusiastic member of the RAFA for 48 years, holding the post of chairman of the Hailsham branch for the last eight years.

He co-founded the Bomber Command Memorial Foundation that lobbied, raised funds and ultimately installed the memorial at Beachy Head in 2012.

Steve Franklin, Reg’s stepson, said: “Reg was more than a stepfather and friend, he was a role model par excellence. His life of service is an example for us all.”

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