HE’S raised thousands of pounds for the Royal British Legion, and turning 98 today, Harry Budden hopes to carry on.
The ex-navy member is the life vice-president of the Legion, and each year has been out and about to sell poppies.
And this year was no different – despite having a hip operation at the age of 97.
Mr Budden, of Northcott House, in Bury Hall Lane, Gosport, said: ‘I have raised thousands of pounds for the Legion, and used to have a stand in the Asda store where I would sell poppies.
‘I had my hip operation in July, and six weeks later I was walking again.
‘I was walking about in time to sell poppies this year.
‘It’s all about giving something back.’
Mr Budden joined the navy when he was 21 and worked in the engine room of ships, and travelled the world.
During the Second World War, Mr Budden was involved with the D-Day landings, and served on HMS Kingsmill.
‘It took me 15 years to have a Christmas at home,’ said Mr Budden.
‘I have many memories of being out at sea, during the war.
‘One of them was when I was on a cargo boat from Plymouth in the English Channel in the middle of the night.
‘A big Italian boat did not see us, and went into the back of the ship.
‘In total 11 people died, and I was lucky to be alive.
‘That’s the nearest I had been to dying.’
On January 16, 1940, Mr Budden was granted two weeks’ leave, so he could marry his childhood sweetheart Irene.
The pair met at school.
Mr Budden said: ‘Her brother was my friend and that’s how we met.
‘I used to spend more time at her house than I did at mine.
‘In 1940 I got two weeks off and I married Irene in St John’s Church, in Forton Road, Gosport.’
Together with Irene, who died five years ago, aged 89, Mr Budden has four children, nine grandchildren and one great-grandson.
On July 18 this year, Mr Budden had work done to his right hip replacement, in Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham.
He was discharged on July 26, and settled back into the Gosport nursing home.
Manager Susan Doleman said: ‘Harry is such a strong character here.
‘He is always ready with a story at the table, and it’s always good.
‘He’s very active and was proud to show us he was walking again after his operation.
‘He goes out and has meals with his family.
‘Harry’s recovery from his hip operation is brilliant – he was walking around again so quickly, which is extremely remarkable.’