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Ted Sergison, Staplehurst's Battle of Britain expert, dies

By Alan Smith

A village stalwart with a passion for aviation has died.

Edward (Ted) Sergison of Corner Farm Road, Staplehurst, passed away on Sunday at Pembury Hospital after suffering a heart attack.

He was only 67.

Mr Sergison had lived in Staplehurst his whole life, having been born in Orchard Cottages in Frittenden Road in 1947.

Ted Sergison: His passion was the Battle of Britain

He was educated at Staplehurst Primary and then Swattenden Secondary School in Cranbrook.

His first job in 1962 was as a farm worker at Sayenden Farm, Staplehurst, but he found his niche when he joined the RAF in 1965, working in Air Sea Rescue.

In 1967, he was involved in a serious motorcycle accident and was in hospital for a number of months. It was five years before he was able to return to work.

He became a traffic warden, and in 1977 joined the Kent Police as a Special Constable.

He continued working in the security industry until retirement, first with Eurostar and then as a prison officer.

His interest in aviation began in childhood. He was for many years a trustee and historian for the Battle of Britain Historical Society and he collected the signatures of all the Battle of Britain pilots he met.

He made it his personal ambition to ensure the exploits of flyers from the Second World War who served locally were properly recorded.

Ted Sergison at the unveiling of the memorial at Chickenden Farm to the flyers of the USAAF. Pictured with the Rev Gill Carver

He was successful in having a plaque installed at Staplehurst Railway Station to commemorate a Belgian pilot killed when his Hurricane crashed on the station in 1940, even arranging for a fly-past by two modern Belgian fighter planes at the unveiling, which was also attended by the flyer’s children.

He spent years negotiating with the MoD to ensure that Flt Lt Frederick Rushmer, who crashed in Smarden and was originally buried as “Unknown” in All Saints Churchyard in Staplehurst, eventually received a proper headstone.

He also successfully led a campaign to see a memorial erected at Chickenden Farm to record the sacrifice of the Canadian and American airman who flew from Staplehurst Advanced Landing Ground during 1943-44, organising a flypast of a Mustang fighter at the unveiling.

His other love was cats - particularly Siamese. He would bring home every waif and stray he found.

Fellow villager Peter Spearlink said: “Many of us will remember Ted for his tireless efforts to record our local history and especially his work in the field of individual war memorials in the parish.”

His wife of 33 years, Jeanette Sergison, said: “A kinder man never existed. He always had a good word to say about everyone.”

He leaves five children: Wayne, Karen, Georgenia, Tarasa and Matthew.

The funeral arrangements have yet to be decided.

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