Ex-RAF policeman left gobsmacked after spotting massive snake once his squadron mascot on Lanarkshire holiday

An ex-RAF serviceman was left completely gobsmacked when he was reunited with a former ‘slippery’ friend whilst holidaying in Lanarkshire.

Les Bishop, originally of East Kilbride but now living in Grimsby, couldn’t believe his eyes when he visited M&D’s theme park with his family recently and came face-to-face with his old pal – a former military mascot snake.

Les and his family had been wandering around the Amazonia exhibit within the theme park looking at the array of animals and reptiles when he instantly recognised Eric the Python .

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Eric who was the 14th Squadron’s mascot when Les, a former RAF policeman, was posted at RAF Bruggan in Germany back in 1986.

Eric was kept in a glass cabinet in the Wing Commander’s office, but on the odd occasion he was ‘left out,’ he provided a chance opportunity to wind up newly arrived RAF policemen.

Eric the python now lives at Amazonia at M&Ds Theme Park in Motherwell
(Image: Hamilton Advertiser)

Les posted a note on Facebook to his former colleagues in Bruggan to let them know of the chance encounter.

He told Lanarkshire Live : “It was great to see that after all these years Eric is still with us and being cared for after retiring from his military service.

“There’s been lots of comments on the Facebook page from well wishers around the world asking after Eric.

“It brought back great memories of fun times with colleagues who came face to face with Eric the legend.”

From all accounts the 14th Squadron has had a python as a mascot as far back as 1961. The original snake called Fred died in 1963.

In October 1985 a tiger python was posted to the squad and called Eric, full name Eric Courtney Aldrovandi. However, his tenure was short-lived and he left after three months.

On March 24, 1986 his successor, the current Eric, a Burmese python, arrived as Flight Lieutenant Aldrovandi. During his first two years Eric grew to nine feet and weighed just under a stone, and was given a fully heated office in the history room.

On January 1, 1992, Eric grew in stature and was promoted to Squadron Leader and stretched to 14 feet.

In 2011 however, Eric requested permission to retire and relocated to Longleat in Wiltshire before making his way to Lossiemouth and finally to M&D’s in Strathclyde Country Park, Motherwell.

Jensen Taylor Connelly of M&D’s told us: “Eric has always been a family favourite at Amazonia because of his intriguing history and we’re so lucky to have so much information about his life and times in the RAF.

“It’s so true what they say about it being a small world and we’re really grateful for Les taking the time to let us know about Eric’s adventures.

“He really is a true legend.”

Amazonia is a temperature controlled tropical house, themed on the Amazon rainforest and home to over 70 different species.

It’s one of many attractions available at ‘Scotland’s Theme Park’.

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Daily Record – Motherwell