‘Limitless zest for life’: Keen gardener turns 100 years old
PUBLISHED: 06:53 01 April 2020 | UPDATED: 06:53 01 April 2020
A keen gardener, RAF veteran and avid Norwich City supporter from Norfolk turns 100 today – but cannot be visited in person by his family due to coronavirus restrictions.
Derek Saunders lives in a Norwich care home, but remains ‘more active than most’ according to his daughter, Bridget.
She said: “He still writes wickedly difficult current affairs quizzes for his fellow care home residents, and serves as a confidant and companion for his enviably many friends.”
Mr Saunders was born in Banham and joined the RAF at 19. He spent four years in India, Burma and Sri Lanka during the Second World War and later was an honorary treasurer of the Royal British Legion’s Norwich branch for 58 years, for which he was made an MBE.
He later worked in construction and moved to Diss to care for his wife Kathleen, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and died a decade ago.
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A keen gardener, he grew vegetables, fruit and flowers for his family up until he was 97. After a serious fall, he moved into a Norwich care home.
Born in 1920, Mr Saunders managed to miss the worst of the Spanish Flu outbreak – which remains the deadliest epidemic on record.
But his family’s plans to celebrate a century of life with him in person have been scuppered by measures in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Instead, they plan to use a video messenger to speak with him and wish him a happy birthday.
His daughter, who lives in Brighton, recognises that it would be unsafe to visit him in person and is thankful that she and the rest of the family will still at least be able to see her father – even if it is only over the internet.
She said: “It’s sad, it’s really sad. But we know that there are a lot of people who have it a lot worse.
“We all want him to know that his century of wisdom, his guiding moral compass, his limitless zest for life and his unfailing sense of humour have been a source of inspiration to us all.”
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