NOT many people can claim to have had an 81st birthday present as unique as Ron Watson’s.

The Escrick man was given a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be the guest of honour at York’s royal gun salute in the Museum Gardens.

He was given the present after his daughter, Caroline Wandless, bid £255 for the treat.

The prize saw Mr Watson and son-in-law Roger Wandless join Brigadier Greville Bibby as VIP guests at the royal gun salute.

After starting with coffee at the Officers’ Mess in Fulford Road, Mr Watson was driven to the gardens to take their his with the brigadier and civic party to witness the salute, before returning to the brigadier’s house for lunch.

The prize was won at a charity auction for The City of York Afghanistan Commemorative Appeal run by The Press to fund a new stained glass window at All Saints Church in Pavement.

Mr Watson said: “It was wonderful. I enjoyed it all the way round.

“Everything was perfect and I was impressed with all the officials and how friendly everyone was.”

With a target of £17,000, the appeal has now raised more than £16,150.

Mrs Wandless thanked everyone at the event for treating her father and husband like royalty.

She said: “It’s nice to give something back because in December 2000 I was the very lucky winner of The Press competition in conjunction with HMS York.

“I was very kindly flown out to Gibraltar where I joined the ship and sailed back with the company to Portsmouth.”

l Anyone wanting to make a donation to the appeal should send a cheque, payable to The City of York Afghanistan Commemorative Appeal, to: Mike Laycock, The Press, 76-86 Walmgate, York YO1 9YN, accompanied by their name, address and contact details.