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Brewery names new ale after decorated war hero
Buy this photo » Stan Bradford takes his first sip of the beer named after him – Gunner’s Gold – watched by Will Thompson, deputy manager of the Nag’s Head in Abingdon. Picture: OX57311 Ric Mellis
WARTIME ace Stan Bradford downed six enemy planes during the Second World War.
Now he has done the same to a pint of beer named in his honour.
The decorated former gunner pulled the first pint of Gunner’s Gold, produced by Abingdon’s Loose Cannon Brewery, at the town’s Nag’s Head pub on Abingdon Bridge.
Mr Bradford, 89, was a flight sergeant with 57 Squadron who manned the mid-upper gun on Lancaster bombers flying out of RAF Scampton during the war, shooting down enemy aircraft on missions over Germany.
In 1944, he was honoured with the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM) for “an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against the enemy” by King George VI in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
His latest honour is rather more unorthodox.
Looking to find a name for their new bitter, the brewery found out about Mr Bradford’s wartime exploits by chance, and decided his RAF role would make the perfect name for it.
Mr Bradford, who lives with wife Beryl on the town’s Peachcroft estate, said: “It is a really nice beer, pleasing to the palate, a nice tipple.”
When Mr Bradford visited the brewery in Caldecott Road just before Christmas, one of the workers offered him a case of beer as a festive gift.
The brewery staff had no idea of their visitor’s wartime bravery, but were told by others paying them a visit.
Chris Harrison, of Loose Cannon Brewery, said: “It was pure serendipity. We were looking to name a new beer and we are called Loose Cannon, so it meshed together nicely.”
The new beer is golden in colour and brewed using an unusual hop called El Dorado. It is said to be not too bitter, with hints of peach and passionfruit.
After hitting on the name, Loose Cannon made Mr Bradford an honorary member of the brewery and his signature was incorporated into the Gunner’s Gold pump clip.
Mr Bradford hopes the town’s Royal British Legion will be able to stock Gunner’s Gold, but added: “I expect there will be a few comments flying around the club when they see my signature.”
It’s the first time Loose Cannon has named a beer in honour of a local person.
Mr Bradford, who is president of Abingdon Royal British Legion, does not like to talk about his wartime service, but said: “On a few occasions we got attacked. To save the lives of my crew I shot down six planes and I ended up a so-called war hero.”
After the war, Mr Bradford joined the British Motor Corporation in Abingdon, where he worked for 35 years building MG sports cars and Minis.