Obituary: Tribute to airman who was 'always cheerful'

Family have paid tribute to model making enthusiast William Porter who died on March 18

Family have paid tribute to model making enthusiast William Porter who died on March 18 - Credit: Darren Porter

The family of a Royal Air Force (RAF) veteran and member of the city's model boating community have shared stories of the airman's many adventures.

Born on January 24 in 1939, William George Porter, known as Bill, was the second child of Margaret and William Porter.

He was the second child following the birth of the couple's elder daughter Janet.

William Porter had a passion for aircraft, both big and small, from a young age.

William Porter had a passion for aircraft, both big and small, from a young age. - Credit: Darren Porter

Bill was born in his mother's family home, the Green Dragon Inn, in Worcester.

As a child he attended Chester Grammar School as well being a part of the Air Training Corps where his love for aircraft, both big and small, began. 

Darren Porter, Bill's son, said: "He was fortunate where he was because he got to fly in lots of different aircraft.

"He used to save up his lunch money from school to buy model aircraft kits as well.

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"Dad had more than just a passion for aviation."

William Porter was a winchman for two to three years in between being an engine fitter for the RAF.

William Porter was a winchman for two to three years in between being an engine fitter for the RAF. - Credit: Darren Porter

Aged 17 Bill joined the RAF where he started out as an engine fitter and was based at Horsham St Faith - now known as Norwich Airport.

Darren said: "Dad was known to do more flying than the aircrew sometimes - he took any opportunity to go up there.

"So when he was asked two or three years later if he wanted to get paid for doing it he jumped at the chance - that's how he became a winchman."

A winchman is someone who operates a winch from the side of a helicopter. 

Darren continued: "He was flying along the coast to Gorleston and the helicopter had to bank to avoid a flock of seagulls.

"Dad fell out and into the sea but because he was the winchman there was no one to help him. 

"They had to come back and pick him up while he was just in the sea - he was perfectly fine."

When Bill had some down time he went to Eaton park and discovered his other love - model boats.

William Porter always took an opportunity to fly even after his time in the RAF.

William Porter always took an opportunity to fly even after his time in the RAF. - Credit: Darren Porter

Darren added: "He was just a big kid really - whether it was flying model planes at the airfield or boats at the park."

Bill's passion for model making was easy to see - being a long standing member of both the Norwich Model Aero Club and Norwich Model Boat Club, where he was chairman.

In 1959 Bill was deployed in Cyprus where he unknowingly started his relationship with his wife, Lorraine.

She said: "I had a friend whose boyfriend was also in Cyprus and they were writing to each other - so me and few friends did the same to others who were out there.

"When Bill came back from Cyprus in 1962 he became a friend of the family.

"It was only when he wanted to relocate from where he was stationed in Honington in Suffolk - to be closer to me - that we both realised there was something more.

"He was a lovely man - always smiling, always cheerful."

Another passion of William Porter's was boats, especially model boats he used to sail at Eaton Park.

Another passion of William Porter's was boats, especially model boats he used to sail at Eaton Park. - Credit: Darren Porter

Bill and Lorraine got married in 1964 at St Thomas Church in Earlham Road before he was on the move again, being posted in Libya in 1965.

The pair then moved to Cyprus where they had their first child Tracey, in 1967.

Bill retired from the RAF in 1969, purchased a bungalow in New Costessey where they welcomed their second child, Darren, in 1972.

They finally settled in Taverham in 1983 - where he and Lorraine would stay.

In 1988 Bill set up his own business called Pipeline Drain Services which he ran for almost 30 years.

Family have paid tribute to model making enthusiast William Porter who died on March 18

Family have paid tribute to model making enthusiast William Porter who died on March 18 - Credit: Darren Porter

Darren said: "A lot of what I have achieved is through his support - I learnt so much from him.

"I know he's still with me but it's devastating - it's a great loss to all of us."

Bill died on March 18 at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) at 83 years old - a few days before he due to have a pacemaker fitted.

Bill leaves behind his loving wife Lorraine, son Darren, daughter Tracey and three "wonderful" grandchildren: Adam, Ruben and Louis.