A Hanover Housing Association development in Dulverton has hosted a special visit from Annie Maw, the Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset and Hanover’s Chair Dr Stuart Burgess.
Hanover Court is situated in the wooded valley of the River Barle on the edge of Exmoor National Park. A conservation area, native wildlife abounds here, such as the Exmoor pony. Comprising 25 retirement flats, Hanover Court is known for its focus on the health and wellbeing of residents.
Among the 20 residents greeting Mrs Maw was 101-year–old Reverend Peter Shaw. A Second World War veteran, Peter served as part of the courageous RAF Bomber Command. The dedicated crews helped pave the way for the D-Day invasion of occupied Europe, with over 55,000 young men losing their lives during the war.
Born in Saltburn-by-the-Sea in North Yorkshire, Reverend Shaw had a very formal upbringing, spending his early years with his nanny in the nursery wing of the family home. He then went to the renowned Aysgarth Prep School and then on to the illustrious Wellington College in Berkshire. Following this, he read law at Pembroke College, Cambridge. Unfortunately he was unable to pursue a law career due to the break out of war.
Peter flew some 22 sorties with Bomber Command. His final mission, on the 25 April 1945, saw No. 57 Squadron sent to target Hitler’s famous Eagles Nest in the Bavarian Alps. However, due to cloud cover, they were instead directed to bomb the nearby Nazi stronghold of Obersalzburg. This included a large barracks complex for the much feared SchutzStaffel (SS). Hitler’s mistress Eva Braun lived at this barracks almost exclusively throughout the war. According to accounts, around 1,230 tons of bombs were dropped during the raid.
After the war, Peter bought a fruit farm in Kent before moving to Inyanga in the eastern highlands of Rhodesia (now known as Zimbabwe). He and his wife Monica remained there for several years, until the Mugabe regime came to power.
Peter was later ordained into the priesthood. His first post was as a curate at Courtfield Gardens in London, before becoming vicar of Alderney in the Channel Islands. Posts in Greece and the Canary Islands followed. When he finally returned to the UK, Peter first settled in Breamore, near Fordingbridge, Hampshire.
After officially retiring in his 70s, he moved to Greatworth near Banbury, where Peter continued to serve mass every Sunday. It was in December 2010 that the couple moved into Hanover Court, Dulverton so that they could be nearer to their family.
Hanover's Chair Dr Stuart Burgess said: ‘It's always a pleasure to meet people of calibre and fortitude, such as Peter Shaw. What an amazing journey he has undertaken throughout his life!
‘Hanover Court is a fantastic estate with some remarkable residents and a great community spirit. I was particularly impressed with the level of support available and how residents make the most of the shared areas that are available to them. We know one of the problems readily faced by older people is loneliness and isolation, so having this type of facility is a great way to make friends.’
Annie Maw, Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset said: ‘It was a great privilege and pleasure to come to tea with so many interesting and marvellous people at Hanover Court. I was delighted to meet both staff and residents. Some, like Reverend Shaw, deserve tremendous respect for what they have achieved in their lives.’