War veteran Bill 'very happy' with surprise 100th birthday party
- Credit: Terry Harris
A Second World War veteran who is preparing to turn 100-years-old says he has “been lucky” to be able to reach that landmark.
Bill Clasper was treated to a surprise pre-birthday party at Clare’s Kitchen in Littleport on December 20, where he has attended most days, to mark the occasion.
He said: “I’m very happy with the effort made and quite surprised, too.”
Bill, who turns 100 on December 30, has been a regular customer at Clare’s Kitchen on Camel Road since moving to Littleport in 1989.
The former engineer was welcomed by friends and residents, and was treated to a cup of tea, as well as a birthday cake and a choice of snacks.
Bill, originally from Hertfordshire, was a founding member of the Air Cadet Defence Corps in Luton and joined the RAF in 1939.
After an apprenticeship at ball bearing manufacturer SKF, it was in the RAF where he became a flight engineer in the 57 Squadron, and flew in a Lancaster Bomber.
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“I came out the RAF in 1947 and went into coach driving, including for Costings of Dunstable and I also went to Vauxhall as an engineer.
“My younger brother told me that East Anglia is one of the friendliest places to live, so I moved.”
While a bus driver, one of Bill’s highlights was taking Luton Town FC to Wembley for the 1959 FA Cup final, which they lost to Nottingham Forest.
He retired after his eight-year spell as a bus driver came to an end, and is not one for taking the spotlight.
“I don’t always like to be at the centre of attention if I can help it!” said Bill.
“I’m not as dextrous as I once was, but I still drive. I just took being 100 for granted.”
During his career outside the RAF, Bill was also interested in walking football, and even collected winners’ medals.
The Royal British Legion (RBL) member, which he joined in 1946, was also greeted with a birthday wish from the Littleport RBL branch as he prepares to spend Christmas with his family.
“I also do gardening and went to the RAF club in Luton for some dancing around once a month," Bill added.
“I would say the key to reaching 100 is keeping pretty active, both physically and mentally.
“Looking back, I’ve been lucky.”