World War Two veteran Edgar Slater, 97, lives alone in Hertfordshire and was recently assisted by SSAFA caseworker Tom Ormrod when his boiler broke. Tom was able to secure funding and get the boiler replaced in a matter of days. Edgar was widowed 27 years ago. He suffers from macular degeneration and is registered blind.
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“You were either an errand boy or you worked on a farm in those days. I worked on a chicken farm and I thought this is not what I want to do! The Essex regiment were taking people and I signed up. I thought I was the cat’s whiskers! By 1937 I was already in Egypt.”
Edgar was wounded in the shoulder in Tobruk. After he had recuperated he was attached to the Navy. “I was with the Special Boat Service doing hit and run jobs which was quite dangerous but we had rum issue then so at least we had Dutch courage! We went up into the Aegean and we were abandoned on a little island when the boat broke down. We tried deception – we used to light fires to make it look as if the island was still occupied - but we wouldn’t have been able to put up a fight if anyone came.”
Edgar has always enjoyed entertaining having learned to play the harmonica as a boy. He used to busk and until recently he and two friends used to go around local homes to entertain the residents. He also does a bit of stand up comedy at the sport and social club.
He said: “My boiler was old and it shorted out. It was only a few days but unfortunately there was a fall of snow so I did find it a little bit difficult with no hot water but you don’t give up. A neighbour leant me an electric heater and I could still boil the kettle. My plumber suggested that I contact SSAFA. Tom came to see me and they did a wonderful job. SSAFA has done a marvellous job for me.”