Percy sticks with tradition for his 102nd Christmas

Soon to be 102 year old Percy Norton picks up his Christmas Turkey from Peele's at Thuxton from Jame

Soon to be 102 year old Percy Norton picks up his Christmas Turkey from Peele's at Thuxton from James Graham. Picture: Matthew Usher.

When it comes to his Christmas dinner Percy Norton has just one stipulation.

Percy Norton on his bike aged 18. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Percy Norton on his bike aged 18. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

It has to be turkey and it has to be a Norfolk black from Peele's at Thuxton, near Dereham.

But when you are nearly 102 years old and have been buying your turkey from the same producer for more than 50 years there is really no need to make any changes to the annual tradition.

And as Mr Norton said, as he picked his 4.5kgs bird up from Peele's owner James Graham yesterday: 'They are the best, they always have been and always will be.'

Mr Norton, who lives in Mattishall, said he remembers Mr Graham running around the yard at Rookery Farm more than 40 years ago as a little boy, 'no bigger than my walking stick'.

Percy Norton on his wedding day in 1943. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Percy Norton on his wedding day in 1943. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

He said: 'I used to come up here in my butcher's van to pick up the turkey.

'Everyone still comes to mine for Christmas but I won't be doing any of the cooking. I'll leave that to my daughters, since I lost my wife 25 years ago. I am usually in my chair with a glass of whiskey.'

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If anyone had told Mr Norton, when he returned from the Second World War, that he would still be celebrating Christmas as a centenarian (he turns 102 on Sunday) he would never have believed them.

He was so badly injured from a shell blast that he was given just three months to live - 70 years ago.

'I've still got the scars, they go from front to back,' he said.

He spent 13 months in hospital in 1945/6, seven months of those in the same bed.

But he did survive to tell the tale, and some.

'I was always fit and well, I've done a lot of cycling and cross country and was never indoors as a young man,' he said. 'When I couldn't work in the butchery any more I started taxi driving and I used to know every single person in the village.'

He still travels up and down the country with his daughter Marilyn to dog shows with their smooth-haired dachsunds. At home he is kept company by his German Shepherd.

And his secret to his long life? A drop of whiskey in his milk every night before bed.

* Do you have a story about a long tradition? Email kathryn.cross@archant.co.uk.