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Autobiography reveals life of adventure for 89-year-old Crosskeys man

Published in News at 15:00, Thursday September 4th, 2014. Last updated at 15:14, Thursday September 4th, 2014

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LIFE AND TIMES: Dr Graham Osborne with a copy of his book

LIFE AND TIMES: Dr Graham Osborne with a copy of his book

An organic chemist has put pen to paper and committed his life story to print.

Keen local historian Dr Graham Osborne has detailed his adventures across the globe in a new book which will raise money for Cancer Research Wales.

Born in Crosskeys in January 1925, 89-year-old Dr Osborne’s life has taken him around the world.

He explained: “Both my parents and I were very active in Hope Baptist Church in Crosskeys and I was baptised there and later became assistant secretary of the Sunday school.

“I took an entrance exam and came fourth out of the whole county so won a place at Pontywaun County School.

“It was a turning point for me; I really got stuck in to academic work for the first time in my life.

“But then World War Two started and in 1942 I volunteered for the RAF at the age of 17.

“But in the middle of January 1944 they stopped recruiting aircrew and so when I was called up I was obliged to join the army.

“I was sent to Catterick in Yorkshire as a potential recruit for the Royal Signals as a radio mechanic. But it was now 1945 and while the war with Germany was nearly over, the war with Japan was in full swing. So we were sent to Kenya to recover Malaya from the Japanese.

“I was then posted to British Somaliland and trained as a signal mechanic and to take charge of the main wireless transmitters.

Dr Osborne, who has a love of walking, returned from British Somaliland in September 1947 and studied chemistry, physics and maths at Cardiff University.

He continued his studies and gained a Ph.D from Cambridge University. In 1952 he married his wife Sylvia, who he met through the church.

In 1958 he got a job as an organic chemist at Shell’s research laboratories in Kent.

Fearful of being made an administrator, Dr Osborne and his wife decided he should try to obtain a university lectureship. He said: “I got a position at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand in 1964.

“We took the four-week journey by liner to New Zealand and took our sheepdog Jim, too. We spent 20 years in New Zealand.”

Returning to Wales in 1983 following his retirement, the couple bought a 20-acre farm site in Llansadwrn.

In 1986 Mrs Osborne’s father died. Her mother became unable to live alone and they decided to sell the farm and moved back to the Valleys to Cwmfelinfach.

In 1994 Mrs Osborne sadly passed away from cancer.

Dr Osborne said: “Ours was the closest of marriages. We trusted each other utterly, shared everything and helped each other in everything.

“Following the death of Sylvia, I was now in a position of considerable difficulty.

“All of our possessions were in storage as we had been living in temporary accommodation so I had also lost my home.

“The difficulties had to be faced alone. But the key is to do things and in my case I put more effort into local history and leading the walking groups.

“I stayed in my next home in Risca for 15 years and got to know the inhabitants well.”

In 2010 he moved from Risca back to his birthplace of Crosskeys but two years ago suffered a mini-stroke.

Undeterred, Dr Osborne completed his autobiography and keeps himself fit through his loves of gardening, walking and local history.

• The Story of Dr Graham Oliver Osborne is available from publishers Bakehouse Publications priced at £4.99.

To buy a copy visit www.oldbakehouseprint.co.uk or call 01495 212600.

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