Decorated veteran Wally Harris is nominated for Pride of Bracknell Award
Published: 16 Apr 2013 13:300 comments
Crown Wood resident Walter 'Wally' Harris was a Rolls Royce engineer in the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers (REME), so it was unusual for him to be fighting on the frontline.
But the 92-year-old found himself face-to-face with the enemy outside Brussels in 1944 so, disregarding his own safety, he drove his jeep into the group, killing or wounding about 12 enemy soldiers with a Browning machine gun.
In recognition of his efforts he had an army training regiment in surrey named after him as in July 2002 - the 'Harris MM platoon' - and also received the honour of the Freedom of the City of London.
However it is not his valiant war effort that has prompted his nomination for a Pride of Bracknell Award but the way in which he has cared for his wife of 72 years, Dolly. The father-of-seven has been married to Dolly since they were teenagers but she was sadly diagnosed with dementia four years ago.
He said: "We got married in 1941, when I was due to go overseas. We just thought it was better to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all." Dolly has recently been moved to a nursing home in Wildrings, but Wally still visits regularly and takes her out on day trips when he can. Wally has recently been diagnosed with cancer and also an aneurism in his aorta.
"Sadly we're now apart because of her dementia. I'd been caring for her for years but eventually it was getting too much," he added. "But we've had a good life and I'm fairly fit. I don't smoke, drink and I've had one good lady all my life, I'm very lucky."
Nominator and friend Jane Currie, who is a carer for Bracknell Forest Voluntary Action (BFVA) said: "His compassion and humour shine through. Wally has recently been diagnosed with cancer, yet he still tells you a joke and makes you laugh until your jaw aches! The cruelty of his situation does not diminish his zest for life. He always takes time to make sure the person he is talking to feels special.
"He is a gentleman in the true sense of the word. A war hero, yes, but also heroically living every day with dignity and kindness."
l The deadline for nominations for the Pride of Bracknell Awards has now passed. Judges will soon draw up a shortlist of nominees, who will then be invited to the event at Bracknell and Wokingham College on Friday, April 26.