Chidham's Second World War veteran celebrates his 100th birthday
Second World War veteran Thomas William Willard celebrated his 100th birthday on November 1.
Born in 1919 in Blacksmith Cottages, Chidham, near Emsworth, Tom was one of Walter and Thurza Willard’s five children.
After leaving Chidham School at 11 years old, Tom started his working life as a greengrocer and went on to buy the business with his cousin Ronald Steer before selling his shares a few years later.
Tom was called up for the Second World War at a very young age. He recalls the time when he was told his mother had died but was only allowed 48 hours leave to attend her funeral and say his goodbyes.
Tom says: ‘Life was tough. You had to be hard and just get on with it.’
During the war, Tom met his future wife Dorothy Woodhead, from Yorkshire, while she was working in the Land Army. The couple married in 1953 and had two sons, Paul and Phil.
Tom has several medals for his courage and bravery, including the Burma Star that he and all his family are very proud of.
Dorothy died in 2003 leaving Tom to live independently in their family home at Chidham.
Tom’s son Phil, his local carers and friends say they are very proud to see him reach 100 but also believe that a whisky or two every night has helped him reach this fantastic age.
Several days a week, Tom continues to sit in his car and say good morning to his neighbours and his grandson Frankie on his way to Chidham School.
The birthday boy celebrated his centenary surrounded by his children, grandchildren and friends.