Fifty years after the investiture of the Prince of Wales in Caernarfon a Rhyl pensioner has two special and very different reasons for remembering the event.

At the time Zam Mead was an engineer with Radio Rentals in Colwyn Bay and the company won the contract to install close-circuit TV and audio systems in the castle.

The team spent two weeks setting everything up, and having to undergo strict security checks on entering and leaving the castle.

“About three days before the investiture, which was on July 1st, I was lucky enough to see Lord Snowdon, Princess Margaret, the Duke of Kent and a few more members of the Royal family who were there to enjoy the Welsh hospitality and keep their eye on proceedings,” he said.

But Zam, now 85, was in for a shock on the eve of the big day.

On the evening of the 30th his darts team from the George and Dragon in Abergele were playing local rivals the Castle Hotel, and soon after going to bed he and his wife Barbara – known affectionately as Babs – were awakened by a loud explosion.

They saw a cloud of black smoke but went back to sleep until 4am when they saw police officers searching their garden in Lon-y-Waun.

It was only after going to work that Zam learned that the nearby explosion had killed two local men, Alwyn Jones and George Taylor, who had been planning to blow up Government buildings. At the time it was believed that they had been intending to blow up the Royal train as it passed through the town.

“The two guys who lost their lives were well known to me as they played darts for the Castle and I had been with them earlier that evening. Actually I was drawn to play against one of them,” he said.

“Before they left the pub they picked up a bag from under the table and off they went, and apparently it contained some gelignite sticks,” said Zam.

Those anecdotes are among many contained in Zam’s autobiography titled “From Dust to Delusion – a tale of desertion, survival and romance”, which has just been published in limited numbers for him to give to friends.

Born in a tiny village in India, he trained as a radio engineer and joined the Royal Pakistan Navy in 1950. He was selected to train in Portsmouth but at the end of the two-year course, when he was due to return to home, he deserted.

Instead of joining his fellow cadets in Heathrow, he headed for Holyhead and spent time in Cork before returning to Manchester and keeping a low profile. It was there that he met Babs and they married in 1956.

He started work for Radio Rentals – later Rediffusion – and eventually transferred to North Wales. He went on to work for Agri-Electrics in St Asaph.

After doing some voluntary work with the probation service he was offered a full-time job with the service at its Bangor hostel and that led to further jobs within the service in Shotton, Mold Crown Court and Prestatyn, where he became a much-respected and popular liaison officer. He also served as an interpreter.

In 2002, in recognition of his work, he and Babs were invited to a garden party in Buckingham Palace.

“Who would have thought that an unknown colonial village boy would reach such heights,” he wrote.

The book, written under the name Shalimar Peto – Zam’s childhood nickname - is dedicated to Babs, who died in 2014.