Happy 100th birthday to Len today! He’s enjoyed a party with family, including grandchildren and great grandchildren, residents and staff at Saxonwood care home in Battle. It’s always incredible listening to the stories of people who have had so many experiences, and many of which before we were born! Len told us about some of his most memorable adventures…
“I got engaged to my wife at 17 years old, we were set up on a blind date by a friend and the rest is history! We had a very happy 64 years of marriage. When I was 18 I began training to be a pilot in the RAF but unfortunately caught TB and spent a year in various hospitals recovering. They told me I only had 6 months to live!!
After this poor health I had to stop my pilot training. As the war had started I put myself to good use on the Isle of Wight as a radar monitor. This was a newly invented and revolutionary technology to detect aircraft and was used by the RAF as part of the national air defence.
I had to sit in front of a small television screen and wait for the ‘bleeps’ to come which spotted the planes. On a regular basis the German planes tended to come on the first of the month! We lived in temporary accommodation in huts and our equipment was in lorries so we could easily transport everything. Once the bleeps had sounded I had to tell the seniors and they would pass the information to a base in Uxbridge where they would plot the planes on a map. The radars were huge ariels, some 50ft high.
After the war I spent my career working for Shell and BP, known as the ‘Petroleum Board’. My role was to make sure all of the lorries had tax and I also administered the ‘lorry driver of the year’ competition.
Once I retired I volunteered for Kent Police and visited young offenders at Maidstone Prison and Tonbridge Police Station. I used to chat with them and give support.
I’ve always loved steam trains and have enjoyed travelling railways across the UK. My favourite train is the Bournemouth Belle.
I’m lucky that I lived independently until I was 97 and up until this time always walked to get my daily newspaper and cooked meals. I’ve kept active and I think the secret to getting to 100 is not to worry about things, just get on with it!”
Thank you Len for an insight into your incredible life! Happy 100th Birthday! We've loved celebrating with you.