A HAMPTON Hill war hero has been honoured 15 years after his death with a new community centre named after him.
Staff at Hampton Hill Junior School were going to name the new centre the Windmill Centre, after the school's former name, but after hearing about a campaign to set up a permanent memorial to Norman Jackson, headteacher Bill Jerman said pupils were keen to honour the Victoria Cross winner.
"Our school council were very interested in his story and we worked with his children, who were pupils here, to set up a memorial that the whole community will be able to benefit from."
Mr Jackson, who lived in Burtons Road, was awarded the VC – the highest military decoration – in October 1945 for his bravery during a raid over Germany in April 1944.
The airman's Lancaster Bomber caught fire after being attacked by a fighter plane 20,000 feet above the town of Schweinfurt.
Incredibly, Sgt Jackson tried to put out the blaze by clipping on a parachute and climbing onto the wing with a fire extinguisher in 200 mph winds.
Unfortunately his plane banked and he plummeted to the ground, where he landed in bushes. He spent almost a year in a German hospital where he was treated for injuries including a broken ankle and burns. He was later sent to a prison camp but escaped.
He went on to become a travelling salesman and built a home for his family in Hampton Hill. He died in 1994.
The new Norman Jackson Family Centre will provide facilities for families and young people, including a citizens' advice bureau, health services and space for groups to meet. Mr Jackson's medals and details of his life and career are also on display.
The memorial follows a campaign, led by the Informer, Mr Jackson's family, Twickenham MP Vince Cable, the Victoria Cross Society and the Twickenham branch of the Royal Air Force Association.
Dr Cable, who officially opened the centre, said he was delighted to see the memorial in place. "After 18 months of campaigning and pressure we have had a very satisfactory result. It was a very moving occasion as his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren were there for the unveiling.
"It is a fitting way to honour this exceptionally brave man and my personal thanks go to the school, which has really pushed for this project, and the Informer for its support and again, for pushing for something to be done to recognise a local hero."