Pictured above, Kenneth George Whybrow (Credit: Lina and Tom Photography / LinaandTom.com)
A Cambridge police veteran who regularly patrolled the city and later went on to pioneer a road safety programme has celebrated his 100th birthday today (Friday, November 27).
Kenneth George Whybrow was born into a farming family in Over, Cambridgeshire in 1920.
Despite being spotted by an Arsenal talent scout while playing football, he joined the Royal Engineers at age 17 as an apprentice motor engineer.
As the country went to war, Mr Whybrow was enlisted to 19 Bomb Disposal Royal Engineers and called up to serve in the army. He was posted to training barracks in Dover.
In 1941, a 14-week trip at sea via Newfoundland saw Mr Whybrow and his unit taken to Egypt where he then served in the Middle East for three years, before returning to the UK where he was billeted to Roehampton.
In 1944, Mr Whybrow married Irene Flisher who was working at Bletchley Park as a codebreaker, before being shipped to France for the D-Day landings.
Arriving in Arromanches at the beaches, Mr Whybrow’s unit travelled to Paris and on to Northern Germany to clear up debris and bombs.
Never one to forget his love of football, Mr Whybrow played for England against Holland during this time and scored two goals.
After staying in Europe until 1946, Mr Whybrow was then released from the Army and returned to Cambridge, Cambridgeshire with Irene.
Following a brief stint working for the Post Office, Mr Whybrow spotted an advert in the Cambridge Evening News for police officers required in the Leicestershire police force – an ambition he had long held. He was accepted into the force in 1947.
At the end of the decade Mr Whybrow joined the Metropolitan Police and was accepted to join Cannon Row Police Station, which was attached to Scotland Yard.
His regular beat included Trafalgar Square and to provide protection both inside and outside Number 10 Downing Street, as well as the Royal Palaces when the royal family were in residence.
Mr Whybrow is said to have a particularly fond memory of the Queen Mother approaching him to engage in conversation. He could see his sergeant out of the corner of his eye telling him to stop talking. The Queen Mother later acknowledged that moment, telling Mr Whybrow that she hoped she had not got him in trouble.
Another highlight of Mr Whybrow’s career was meeting Overall Commander of the Invasion Forces in Europe, later President, Dwight Eisenhower inside Downing Street. He acknowledged the part that Mr Whybrow played during the war.
Eisenhower asked if he could wear Mr Whybrow’s helmet and in return Eisenhower gave him his cap to try on. Mr Whybrow could not believe that someone so revered, the head of the allied forces, should take the time to introduce himself and comment on his service.
In the early 50s, Mr Whybrow found himself on Downing Street protection duties to Clement Attlee before he and Irene returned once more to Cambridge, where he transferred to the Cambridge police force as a police constable.
In the mid 60s, Mr Whybrow was regularly on patrol in his police car around the city, yet on three occasions he had the unenviable task of having to tell parents their child had lost their life on one of Cambridge’s roads.
Mr Whybrow vowed to make the county’s roads safer, and he subsequently left the police for a role at Cambridge City Council to pioneer its road safety and signage programmes. This led to Mr Whybrow’s proudest achievement – winning the ROSPA’s National Trophy for “most outstanding contribution by a community towards road safety for children and young people in 1970”.
He then went on to join the council’s engineering team.
In 1975, Mr Whybrow lost his wife Irene to cancer.
Mr Whybrow still lives happily in the city with his wife Marjorie, and enjoyed his big day with a specially broadcast Zoom celebration to a large group of family, friends and former colleagues.
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