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Nothing can slow down Stanley from Salhouse, as he celebrates reaching 100 at Victoria Bowling Club

PUBLISHED: 17:59 30 June 2017 | UPDATED: 19:14 30 June 2017

Stanley celebrating his 100th birthday at The Victoria Bowling Club in Norwich. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Stanley celebrating his 100th birthday at The Victoria Bowling Club in Norwich. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

archant 2017

Playing the saxophone, learning to fly and taking an advanced driving test are all achievements in themselves.

Stanley celebrating his 100th birthday at The Victoria Bowling Club in Norwich. Picture : ANTONY KELLYStanley celebrating his 100th birthday at The Victoria Bowling Club in Norwich. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

But when you reach those goals as you near your 100th birthday - as Stanley, from Salhouse, did - it is more than impressive.

Stanley was born in Watford in 1917 and said he was “rather surprised” to have made to 100.

He grew up in Watford, and studied at Watford Grammar School before training as a carpenter and going into his father’s building business.

Known as a skilled craftsman, Stanley worked on building many houses but particularly enjoyed making furniture - much of which fills his home and the noticeboard at his beloved Victoria Bowling Club, in Norwich, was made by him.

Stanley celebrating his 100th birthday at The Victoria Bowling Club in Norwich. Picture : ANTONY KELLYStanley celebrating his 100th birthday at The Victoria Bowling Club in Norwich. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Two weeks after the Second World War began, Stanley signed up for the army and went into the Royal Artillery Regiment.

“We were sent up the east coast just north of Hull to wait for the invasion,” he said. “But of course that never came.”

In 1944, Stanley was sent to India and then to Burma where he became part of the famous fighting force known as the Chindits, of which he could be one of the last surviving.

“I was very lucky to come out of Burma unscathed,” said Stanley. At the end of the campaign Stanley - then a Captain - was called together with all his other officers and told six military crosses were to be awarded, but that the group would have to cut cards for the honour. Unfortunately, Stanley lost out.

Stanley celebrating his 100th birthday at The Victoria Bowling Club in Norwich. Picture : ANTONY KELLYStanley celebrating his 100th birthday at The Victoria Bowling Club in Norwich. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

He was demobbed in 1946 and very quickly met his wife Alice, who he married in 1947.

“It’s interesting how we met - as I took her sister out before the war,” he said.

By 1947 the pair were married and in 1949 welcomed son John into the world, and later in 1951 daughter Margaret.

As the years went on Stanley did not slow down . Throughout his life he owned various boats and holds a masters certificate in sailing. In the 1990s, he learnt to play the saxophone. And at age 92 he passed his advanced driving test and won his first club competition at the bowls club where he is still a member today.

Stanley even took to the skies aged 94 and learned to fly, it was only insurance problems which stopped him flying solo.

“I’ve been very lucky,” said Stanley. “And it’s lovely to see so many people here today.”

‘You are my hero’

Stanley’s friend Mike Lucas gave a speech in his honour at the Victoria Bowling Club, where Stanley’s name takes pride of place on the wall.

He said: “Stanley ought to be a national treasure.

“He has a bulldog spirit to get things done and is an engaging fellow, with a lively wit always in the background.

“He could regale us with many tales like the one of being asked to get a Nazi gold bar back to England at the end of the war but he rightly declined to assist.

“He has integrity.”

He added: “Stanley is still very alert and his memory is certainly better than mine which is probably why he still has a twinkle in his eye - but he tells me that the ladies can run faster these days!”

“Stanley, you are my hero, and, I surmise, everyone else’s here.

“You are a very special person and we are so pleased that you were able to celebrate your day of days here at the club.

“May there be many more celebrations.”

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