Burton Lazars ‘guinea pig’ airman loses cancer battle

Dr Sandy Saunders, of Burton Lazars, who has died aged 94 EMN-170228-164007001
Dr Sandy Saunders, of Burton Lazars, who has died aged 94 EMN-170228-164007001
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Dr Sandy Saunders, one of the last surviving airmen who received pioneering plastic surgery after the Second World War, lost his battle with cancer on Sunday.

Dr Saunders, who lived at Burton Lazars, was 94.

He continued to live an active life with wife Maggie, helping the Duke of Edinburgh unveil a special memorial to fellow members of the iconic Guinea Pig Club at the National Memorial Arboretum four months ago.

Dr Saunders also enjoyed his final flight earlier this year in a Tiger Moth, the make of aircraft he crashed in 1945.

Forty per cent of his body was burned and he underwent many plastic surgery operations at the hands of Archibald McIndoe, one of 649 badly injured airman to do so.

They formed a support group called the Guinea Pig Club. Dr Saunders continued to meet up with colleague in the club despite his illness.

His widow, Maggie, saidDr Saunders had been receiving end of life care since October.

She said: “He was told in January they could do nothing more for him.

“Sandy came home and we had another seven-and-a-half lovely weeks together.

“We still used to go out as often as we could and only last week I borrowed a wheelchair for him.

“But became bed ridden on Friday and passed away on Sunday afternoon.”

Dr Saunders had three children, three granchildren and two great-granchildren.

The former GP was married to Maggie (75) for seven years. She said: “Sandy was 86 when he proposed to me.

“A lot of people told me not to be so daft because of his age.

“But we’ve had an absolutely wonderful time together.”

A funeral service will be held at St James’ Church at Burton Lazars, at 12 noon on Saturday March 18.

The service will be relayed to the nearby village hall for those who cannot get into the church.