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Garrad Gawler was raised in the protestant/unionist community of County Londonderry in the 1950s. His family emigrated when he was eleven. He returned to Ireland and worked in the north and south, off and on, before he served five years in the Royal Air Force as a data analyst. He was accepted as a mature student by the University of Ulster in Coleraine where he trained to be a teacher.
In the mid 1970s he participated in the aftermath clear-up of a car-bomb which killed six people in Coleraine. That evening he applied to join the part-time Ulster Defence Regiment with which he served for most of a year. He resigned from the UDR after becoming engaged to a fellow student who came from the Roman Catholic/nationalist community. After graduation Garrad and his wife moved to England where he taught mathematics and she taught science in London and the southern counties of England for 35 years.
Garrad passes his retirement writing about military history, dealing in militaria and wasting his money on horse racing. For exercise he does what he is told in his garden and in his allotment. He has three graduate daughters who regularly clean him out at poker.