This life: Boxing clever

PETER Throp, 64, is a freemason and ex-Coldstream Guard who runs a scheme sending boxes full of everything from sweets to wet wipes to British soldiers serving abroad.

In his youth, he proposed to wife, Christine, having met her just over a week earlier and while most people tend to shrink as they get older, 6ft 5ins Peter has got taller. Interview by Neil Hudson.

My first job was an apprentice at Hunslet Engine Company. I left school at 15 and worked as a plater, making steam engines. I went into that because my father said I had to have a trade. I did it until I was 20 and then I signed up for the Army, which is something I'd always been interested in. I went into the Coldstream Guards and was in from 1966 to 1973. I carried out public duties in London, I served in Northern Ireland, Canada and Munster, Germany, which is where I met my wife, Christine.

The person I could not live without is my wife, Christine. We've been married 37 years but it's an interesting story. We met when I was in the Army, she was a teacher in Munster and I had to organise the regimental dinner and one of the jobs was deciding where everyone was sitting. There was a group of women and I allocated them places to sit, each opposite a soldier and I put Christine opposite me. We hit it off. I asked her out to the cinema the following day and we went to see a film called The Battle of Waterloo. There was a scene in it where the Coldstream Guards come over the hill and half the audience must have stood up and she just looked at me as if to say, what have you got me into? I had known her only 10 days when I asked her to marry me. Fortunately, she said yes.

Boxes for Soldiers is something my wife and I started in 2006. It came about because I am chairman of the Coldstream Guards Association, which is made up of ex-Coldstream Guards. They gave me 250 to send some things out to our troops to cheer them up – things like wet wipes, toothpaste, tooth brushes, sweets, coffee, biscuits, deodorant, noodles – it's a bit like Crackerjack. Even the boxes are donated. I also got some money from Perseverance Freemasons Lodge, Pudsey, and it is all stored by my friend Phil Bridge, at UK Express Couriers Ltd, Pudsey. We rely on donations and are very thankful to the local businesses who have supported us by donating goods. We have even had some heartfelt letters sent back from the troops, who say the boxes make a massive difference. We are almost out of money now, so would appreciate any help we can get.

I am most proud of my children, both have served in the armed forces, my daughter, Katherine, 32, is a captain in the Royal Logistics Corps and has done three tours of Iraq and one of Afghanistan. She is due to return home on Friday this week but will be back in Afghanistan in March next year. My son, Nicholas, 35, was in the Navy for a year, he is now a managing director.

Something that might surprise people is I actually grew half an inch in height in 2006. I am 6ft 5in, so really I could have done with losing half an inch but I had to go in for both my knees replacing. I cannot kneel down or climb ladders any more, but after the operation I found I had gained about half an inch in height.

The best thing about Leeds is you are never more than five minutes away from the country, no matter where you are, which I think is great.

The best piece of advice I can give is support our children, wherever they are and whatever they are doing. I think we must do all we can for them. I think generally if you can do someone a good turn, you should. We are not on this Earth long enough to do bad things.

To relax I enjoy freemasonry. I am the director of ceremonies at the Lodge of Elmet, Castle Grove, Headingley and I am immediate past master of the Lodge of Perseverance, Pudsey. I became interested in freemasonry because Christine's father was a freemason and I just kind of graduated to it. I have met some really nice people, people who are like-minded in their values. I think you have got to have values in life.

Anyone who would like to contribute can contact Peter and Christine Throp, via email: pandcthrop@hotmail.co.uk, or telephone 0113 257 6037.

FAVOURITE THINGS

Favourite food: Roast beef and Yorkshire puddings, or a curry

Favourite book: I love to read about regimental history, so anything like that

Favourite programme: Anything to do with nature

Star sign: Capricorn

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