War diet in Norfolk kept me healthy, Sir Michael Caine says

Flashback to 2003: A delighted Sir Michael Caine with the Blue Plaque he unveiled outside the school

Flashback to 2003: A delighted Sir Michael Caine with the Blue Plaque he unveiled outside the school he attended as a wartime evacuee in North Runcton. Photo;John Hocknell - Credit: Eastern Daily Press, Archant

For many, they are remembered as times of great deprivation and hardship.

But Sir Michael Caine believes his happy days as a child evacuee during the Second World War – when he was sent to a Norfolk farm – are the secret behind his long life and career.

The 82-year-old actor, who was moved to a farm in North Runcton, near King's Lynn, credits the healthy diet he enjoyed while in the region, as a factor for keeping him so healthy.

As a seven-year-old – then known as Maurice Micklewhite –- he left bomb threatened south London with his mother, Ellen, and brother, Stanley and spent several years in Norfolk.

He is quoted in a national newspaper describing how he ate hardly any sugar, something he says helped him build up a strong immune system.

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'In the Second World War in England for six years we lived entirely off organic foods. There were no chemicals to put into the land because they were all used in explosives.'

He added that he would have been 'dead long ago' without the early, healthy diet.

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The Oscar-winning star of more than 100 films has previously talked with great affection about his years in Norfolk, describing it as 'the happiest time of my life'.

In 2003, he returned to North Runcton and was present when a commemorative Blue Plaque was placed in the village. He also visited his former school, and his old home next door.

He also acknowledged how his headmistress Miss Linton encouraged him to do well and sparked his love of books. His stage debut was as a 10-year-old in the annual village pantomime – playing Baron Fitznoodle in Cinderella.

As a wartime evacuee, he made friends with children in the village who taught him about pheasants, foxes and farming.

He wrote in his autobiography of the sharp contrast with his life in south London: 'Here was a chance to run free in fresh air, away from soot- laden fumes and get the sun on my face instead of the shade of the dark buildings. For children like myself the war was lucky. We were taken out of our rotten environment and given a chance for a healthy life.'

Sir Michael attended the Hackney Downs School, which had been moved from London to Norfolk – to Downham Market, Upwell and Outwell, and eventually to King's Lynn – where the pupils and staff were based until just after the war.

His mother worked as a cook for the English family at The Grange, North Runcton, and Sir Michael and his family moved into the servants' quarters there.

Do you remember Sir Michael in North Runcton during the war? Email david.bale2@archant.co.uk

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