Tributes paid to Colin 'Captain Col' Heathcote following fitting send off

Preston resident Colin Heathcote has sadly died, aged 77

Honourable Artillary Company member and Preston resident Colin Heathcote has sadly died, aged 77 - Credit: Courtesy of Richard Armstrong

Friends, family and members of the Honourable Artillery Regiment in the City of London have paid a fitting tribute to Colin Heathcote, who sadly died aged 77. 

Hundreds turned out for the Preston resident's funeral service held at St Mary's Church in Hitchin last week. 

Pikeman from the Honourable Artillery Regiment in the City of London bid farewell to their colleague Colin Heathcote

Pikeman and Musketeers from the Honourable Artillery Regiment in the City of London bid farewell to their colleague Colin Heathcote - Credit: Richard Armstrong

Edgar Colin Heathcote was born in Esher in Surrey in January 1945 to Major Edgar Ronald and Olga Heathcote.

He was educated at a prep school St Edmund's in Hindhead and public school at Tonbridge, following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, both of whom were decorated in the first and second World Wars respectively.

It was at this time at age 20, in March 1965, he joined the Honourable Artillary Company as a reservist. He served in 1 Squadron, 2 Company, A Battery and in the Pikeman & Musketeers. His final role before retirement of the Regiment was to be Armourer.

Colin joined Honourable Artillary Company in March 1965 as a reservist

Colin joined Honourable Artillary Company in March 1965 as a reservist - Credit: Richard Armstrong

At 21, and after a brief career in the printing industry, Colin bought his first aeroplane with the help of his aunt and thus began his career in aviation starting by qualifying as a flying instructor at what was a small airfield in Carlisle.

In 1969 he established Cabair, a company offering services of flying training, air taxi services and aircraft maintenance.

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He had the role of the flying eye for Capital Radio and Chiltern Radio in the late 70s and 80s, providing a weather and traffic service over Greater London. He was affectionately known as ‘Captain Col’.

Colin’s entrepreneurial skills helped expand the business and at one point there were over 100 aeroplanes and helicopters on the Cabair fleet.

By the time Colin retired from Cabair in November 2000 there were several flying schools, flight training, helicopter and aircraft maintenance centres.

He had, with the help of his colleagues, built a business that employed nearly 200 people and turned over £12 million.

In 1972 he bought his six month old Jaguar E-Type, something which young men of his age could only dream of. He took the car with him all over the world and loved it even to his dying day.

Colin’s rallying career with and without the E-Type crossed all continents, London to Cape Town, Panama to Alaska, The Inca Trail, London to Singapore and The Grand Tour of India.

Colin Heathcote was laid to rest in St Martin’s Churchyard in the village following a funeral service, lead by the Reverend Stephen Fielding, at St Mary’s Church in Hitchin.

The funeral took place on Tuesday last week, and town centre onlookers were amazed at the pageantry of the service as Colin’s coffin was borne by a guard of Pikeman and Musketeers from the Honourable Artillery Regiment in the City of London, the regiment of which he was Armourer until his retirement only a few years ago.

Dressed in their bright red military uniforms and lead by a low muffled drum beat they took Colin’s coffin slowly into St. Mary’s Church, packed with over two hundred people.

He is survived by his son Alexander, daughter Millie and new born granddaughter, Beatrix.