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Raw onions and sherry are secret to Lowestoft 104-year-old’s long life

PUBLISHED: 09:31 12 November 2013 | UPDATED: 09:31 12 November 2013

Ben Burlingham celebrates his 104th birthday.

Ben Burlingham celebrates his 104th birthday.

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Ben Burlingham certainly knows his onions about living to a ripe old age – as his latest birthday proves.

Mr Burlingham celebrated his 104th birthday yesterday at the Kirkley Manor Care Home in Lowestoft.

And as the former bus driver was joined by his two children, Maureen and Brian, at the home as he opened his presents and cut his birthday cake the secret to his longevity was revealed – his love of sherry and onions.

Mr Burlingham says his secret is eating raw onions and also having a glass of sherry before bed and yesterday he enjoyed a sip of his favourite tipple as the great grandfather celebrated his birthday with his family.

Born in north London in 1909 Mr Burlingham is one of six children and it appears longevity is in his genes as his mother Florence lived until she was 102 and his brother Ron is about to turn 100.

Mr Burlingham, who served in the RAF at Biggin Hill during the second world war, has been at the home for the last three years.

His daughter, Maureen Fiddes, 74, of Gisleham, said: “He puts his long life down to eating raw onions and a glass of sherry before bed.

“He is still very with it and keeps interested in everything that is going on. He always has a smile for people and is an amazing character.”

His son Brian Burlingham, 77, from Litcham in Norfolk, said: “Once my father moved in to the care home he has seemed to have got younger. I am afraid the staff will keep me in instead of him.”

Before he was a bus driver, Mr Burlingham was a milkman with a horse and cart. His loved making things out of wood, followed boxing and was a keen breeder of canaries, a fact recognised on his 104th birthday cake at the care home.

He likes reading his dally newspaper and listening to music.

Gary Foley, care home manager, said: “Ben is always cheerful and always has something nice to say to people.”

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