THE role of custos has a long history in Malvern Priory – the guard or caretaker of the church – sometimes called the verger – the lay person who carries the staff of office of the vicar.

James Walker has been custos for 12 months, having spent the previous 14 years working for Tearfund.

On Thursday, September 27, he took time off from his daily duties to talk to Lunch Box about his early, bachelor, years in the Royal Air Force.

After joining as a mature entrant in 1986, James went through basic training for eight weeks in Lincolnshire before qualifying as ground support staff for a range of aircraft.

Because of the global reach of the RAF, this position took James to many places during the next five years. He served in the Falklands – several years after the conflict but still carrying the scars of the war in 1982. This was followed by postings to Hong Kong and Belize as well as many round trips to the States.

In 1991 he was on the second aircraft into Kuwait and worked there during the difficult times clearing up after the detritus of the Iraqi occupation.

Latterly, James was a loadmaster – responsible for the ‘weight and balance’ of the aircraft – making sure that the aircraft were loaded evenly with passengers, cargo and fuel.

This gave him responsibility for most of the types of aircraft operated by the RAF including Chinook helicopters and VC10s on trooping duties.

During the five years, he was based at Brize Norton and Lyneham among other stations.

During the end of his time in the Gulf, he met Christina and duly got married which cut back on some of his postings.

He completed his service being posted to the Queen’s Flight at RAF Northolt.

His talk was introduced by Anne Eglington and James was thanked by Christine Sutton who gave him a bottle of wine as a thank you present.

A retiring collection was taken in aid of the Air Force Christian Union.

The next Lunch Box will be held on Thursday, October 11 when Alastair Cameron will talk about his work at the recent Winter Olympic Games in South Korea.

The talk will start at one o-clock with tea, coffee and cake from 12.30