How RAF Cosford museum cut-out of group captain started chain reaction of love for couple
Group Captain Ken Hubbard stands in life-size cut-out form at the RAF Museum at Cosford in recognition of his place in history for dropping Britain's first hydrogen bomb.
But that is not why Norman and Sylvia Powell made a special trip from their south Shropshire home to meet cut-out Ken. For them, Group Captain Hubbard – alongside a certain President Nasser – began a more benign chain reaction which culminated in their wedding on April 4, 1959, at St Michael's Church at Langley, Oldbury.
"I am now a firm believer that everything in life is fated," said 85-year-old Norman.
"Somebody asked me if I had written President Nasser a letter to thank him."
The couple live in Bucknell, but Norman grew up in Langley and as a teenager did his National Service in the RAF, serving with 49 Squadron at RAF Wittering, near Stamford, for 18 months from 1956 to 1958.
The squadron, led by the then Wing Commander Hubbard, had been tasked with testing Britain's H-bomb in the Pacific in the spring of 1957.
The fateful day in the couple's romantic tale came in late October 1956. While Norman was watching a movie at the base's cinema, the screen went blank. Base commander Hubbard climbed on stage to tell them that President Nasser had taken over the Suez Canal, and they were now "operational" against Egypt.
The advent of the Suez Crisis meant Norman's usual weekend trip to Birmingham, where he had been courting a (different) young lady, was off. Awake on standby for 37 hours, he finally got some rest time on the Sunday and, being a lifelong cycling enthusiast, went for a ride locally.