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Tributes paid following death of a 'good soldier' aged 84

A man described as ‘a true officer and gentleman’ has died aged 84.

One of six children Major Alfred William Kersting, known as Paddy, was born in Scaugh Callan in Kilkenny, Ireland in 1934.

Born on Remembrance Day (November 11) it was perhaps Paddy’s destiny to be the ‘epitome of the good solider’ he was to become.

Aged 19 he went to England and joined the Army as a trooper in the Royal Horse Guards – a decision that led to his life-long devotion to the armed forces.

His forces career started with a tour in Cyprus during the Cyprus emergency – a period of violent unrest in British Cyprus from 1955-59.

By 1957 he had been promoted to Corporal and in 1958 was posted to No1 (Guards) Independent Parachute Company.

After completing a parachute course he was granted his ‘wings’ of which ‘he was always hugely proud’.

Between 1961-65 Paddy served with the Guards Para’s in Singapore, Borneo and Cyprus and was promoted to Corporal of horse (CoH) – a rank corresponding to sergeant in other regiments.

It was in the early 1960s that he met his wife-to-be, Sheila, when she was jiving at a dance in Woking.

They married in 1964 and the couple moved to Germany where Paddy was stationed.

Beverley describes her parents as being ‘made for each other’.

In 1965 their first daughter Beverley was born and in 1966 they welcomed their second daughter, Siobhan.

By 1974 and nearly 40-years-old Paddy had gone through nearly all the ranks and thrived, excelling in Cyprus as garrison regimental sergeant major for the United Nations (UNFICYP).

He could run ‘much younger and supposedly fitter’ members of his squadron into the ground and was ‘a living legend’ among the younger members of the regiment.

Beverley Harling said that along with Sheila the army was the love of her father’s life and he told her, smiling, that ‘all the soldiers were my sons’.

Major General Sir Robert Corbett knew Paddy well, he said: “He provided a role model for more than one generation of young soldiers and his humour, dry wit and compassion will be missed.”

“He was the epitome of the good soldier, capable, immensely loyal and hard as nails – tough as they come yet a true honourable gentleman” he added.

By 1974 Paddy had earned two general service medals and in 1984 was promoted again, to Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM).

Although he was supposed to retire on October 14 1986 – ‘this was never really in his mind’.

October 12 was his official start date in the role of HQ The Household Cavalry (HCav) regimental secretary/curator HCav museum.

He held the position that was ‘at least two full time jobs rolled into one’ for 14 years.

By running London Marathons and through his work he raised at least £20,000 for the HCav Foundation and the museum.

It was in 1985 that Paddy and Sheila settled in Clewer Hill. Paddy became a member of Windsor Rotary Club and he, and Sheila, did charity work.

When he did finally retire in 2000, the couple continued to enjoy a lively social life with their friends.

A highlight of Paddy’s latter years was in 2018 when he attended the commissioning parade of his 25-year-old granddaughter, Rebecaa Harling, at Sandhurst.

Rebecca is now a serving officer in the army.

In September 2018 Sheila passed away after a short illness. Paddy stoically continued without her but seven months later on April 21 he died at home of a heart attack aged 84.

Beverley described her father as ‘a humble man’, she said: “He was a true officer and gentleman, a totally sincere person.

“He had incredible energy, intelligence and drive with a sense of old fashioned virtue, and had a superb sense of humour, always with a twinkle and smile that was infectious.”

Paddy will be much missed by family and daughters Beverley and Siobhan Adcock-Kersting, granddaughter Rebecca and grandsons James Adcock-Kersting, 21, and Alex, 14.

The funeral service will take place on Tuesday, May 14 at 12pm at Trinity Church, Windsor. All welcome.

 

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