A Swindon veteran has been awarded a medal for his service to the country after witnessing the testing of the hydrogen bomb.

Pete Smith, 87, served for the RAF in 1957 and was a mechanic on Christmas Island when tests for the hydrogen bomb were carried out.

Mr Smith and his comrades had absolutely no protection from the radiation emitted by the tests.

He has now been commended for his work with the Lord Lieutenant personally presenting him with the British Nuclear Test Veterans Medals.

Friends and family gathered at the Goddard Arms on November 10 to surprise Mr Smith. They celebrated the bravery and achievements of their beloved father, grandfather and great-grandfather.This Is Wiltshire:

The entire event was an incredibly special moment for those involved with tears, smiles and laughs constantly filling the room from a family who have so much admiration for the charismatic Mr Smith.

Pete was recruited into the RAF one day after his twenty-first birthday in March of 1957 and by August he had been sent out to Christmas Island as a mechanic.

It was here that he witnessed the two hydrogen bombs being tested, the first was 1.8 megatons in October of 1957 and the second was 3 megatons in April 1958.

HM Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire, Sarah Troughton who presented the medal said: “I am proud to have met him, it is quite rare to meet people who have been given a Nuclear Test Medal as their experiences are fascinating to us all.

“It is good for Swindon and it is good for Wiltshire.

“I am delighted to give him his medal on behalf of his majesty, the King.

“It was quite a terrifying experience that now has had terrifying consequences.”This Is Wiltshire:

Mr Smith expressed how lucky he was to have not suffered long-term effects from being so close to and witnessing the testing of the bombs.

He explained that he has learned that some of his comrades had passed away as a result of what is believed to be radiation poisoning.

He told the Adver how on one of the days that there was a testing, it rained. The rain would have been radioactive however he had stayed in his tent all day reading his book and believes this may be the reason to this day, he is unscathed.

Mr Smith said: “I consider myself very lucky that I have got to 87 and I am still alright.

“We had no protection whatsoever and I am wearing more clothes now than when those bombs went off.”

When reacting to the whole event, he said: “I don’t consider myself a hero, I just did my duty for the time I was there.

 When reacting to his family surprising him he said:” I never expected all of this.

“I am just so overwhelmed.”

Pete and his family spoke about how proud his late wife, who he met four weeks after returning from Christmas Island, as well as his mother would have been of him.

Nicola Schneider, 59, Pete’s daughter who organised the celebrations said: “My late mother would be incredibly proud.

“Obviously I love my dad incredibly as does my daughter and my granddaughters and he’s just so special and he absolutely deserves it.”

Karen Coulthard, Pete’s other daughter said: “I am so proud of him, so so proud of him, he absolutely deserves it for everything he went through, I don’t think I could go through anything like it and we love him dearly and his mum would have been so proud of him.”