Royal Navy serviceman takes final starboard bow

A SURPRISE retirement party and special cake proved the perfect cap after 28 years of Royal Navy service for a former Caister man.

Guests took their hats off to Andrew Gedge, 45, at the celebration at the Cottage Pub, in Norwich, which featured a cake in the shape of a Royal Navy cap.

The father-of-two, who was a chief petty officer in the Navy, celebrated his retirement on Saturday, the eve of his 45th birthday, at the party which included family, friends and former Navy colleagues he had not seen for 20 years.

He was told he was attending the 50th birthday party of a family friend, which actually happened on another date in January.

He said: “It was a total surprise. When I looked in the room I saw the cake sitting there and thought it was one of my caps that had been left on display. However, the cap looked a bit cleaner than mine.”

The son of Brenda and Brian Gedge, he grew up in Carter Close, Caister and attended Caister High School before joining the Navy at 17.

He started his naval career as a rating, operating radar systems and he served on a number of vessels including HMS Bristol, HMS Ark Royal and HMS Illustrious, as well as spending time at Faslane naval submarine base in Scotland.

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He subsequently qualified as a Royal Naval photographer, capturing images of war around the world including Bosnia, and Basra in Iraq.

He has also taken photos of Navy dignitaries and events and once took a picture of James Bond actor Daniel Craig during a promotional exercise for the movie Casino Royale.

He now lives at Thorpe St Andrew with wife Lisa, 41, and children Rebecca, 12 and Charlotte, 10, who organised the surprise party.

Mr Gedge said: “Saturday evening was a complete and utter surprise to me.

“Hats off to my wife Lisa and the girls for keeping it a secret.

“All I could see when I first walked in to the function room at the Cottage pub was a sea of faces and an explosion of camera flashes.”

The party also raised �400 for forces charity Help for Heroes, which helps wounded service personnel.