Ex-Iraq soldier leaves RAF to start florists in Fenland with family

AN ex-RAF soldier who fought in Iraq downed bombs and fighters jets to set up his own flower shop.

Jon Middleton’s exhilarating career as an RAF technician took him from patrolling no-fly zones in the Gulf to helping British and American forces invade Iraq in 2003.

Yet his dream job could not give him what he cherished most – time with his wife and children at his own family business.

He therefore hung up his camouflage uniform after 14 years to start a new florist’s in Marshland St James.

Mr Middleton says he is working even harder than ever to get Ridgeway Flowers in Smeeth Road off the ground – with a little help from his six children.

Jonny, 13, Jessica, six, and Morton, two, who all carry the Middleton surname, chip in to keep the business running with their siblings Emily, 13, Megan, 11, and William Locks, eight, while Mr Middleton and wife Tracy focus on the bottom line.

Mr Middleton also breeds popular miniature Kune Kune pigs, has a Shire horse on site for people to ride and is associated with the Help For Heroes charity to stay in touch with his career routes.

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Mr Middleton said: “It is a proper team and family business. I look back on my time in the RAF fondly but nothing could move me back now.”

Mr Middleton admits his previous work fitting missiles, bombs and guns to aircraft and maintaining fighter jet weapons is about as far away as you can get from life behind a flower shop counter.

But he says his military background is perfect preparation for running his own business because it gives him excellent discipline, timekeeping and organisational skills.

He added: “I was away a lot of the time before. Working at home means I can see things like sports days and school plays, which is all new for me.”

CONTACT: Ridgeway Flowers on 01945 430366.