DOZENS of family and friends gathered to wish a true character a happy 90th birthday.
Tony Edwards has made hundreds of friends through his long career as a builder and funeral director.
Edwards construction company was founded by Mr Edwards’ great-grandfather, John, in 1860 and a few years later the funeral directors J Edwards and son began.
Although Tony no longer owns the businesses, he was hands-on until just over a decade ago and friends who he worked with and built houses for celebrated with him at his home in Kidmore Lane, Denmead, on Saturday.
His cousin Dick Edwards, 84, presented Tony with four framed First World War service medals which belonged to their fathers, Frank and Fred, who served in France and Salonika, in Greece.
Dick’s wife Vi found Tony’s father’s medals in a drawer and had them restored in time for the party.
Tony said: ‘I’m absolutely delighted with the medals.
‘Dick and I are rather proud of the fact that our fathers fought in France.
‘They were there in the early days, 1914 and right through. They were on the front line.
‘They would never talk about it. But you find that with a lot of people.
‘My father did once grudgingly say he was on the fringes of a great big battle.
‘It was a terrible war.
‘The centenary last year brought it home to people.
‘It’s great to see the medals cleaned up and restored in such a beautiful frame.’
Edwards construction company was responsible for building hundreds of houses across Waterlooville and East Hampshire – including the original and current Heroes pub in London Road, Waterlooville.
Edwards Close in the town and Love Lane, in Petersfield, are the work of the family, which saw four generations take the reins before it was sold when Tony retired.
Dick, who lives in Bedhampton, said: ‘It has always been said that if it was an Edwards-built house you knew it was quality.’
Tony, whose wife Jo died two years-ago, said he was delighted to be surrounded by so many loved-ones at his party.
‘Apart from my legs I feel very well to be 90.
‘And I still have nearly all my marbles. I’m very, very lucky.’