A blind veteran celebrated his 100th birthday with family and friends in Brighton – with a Guinness cake.
John Hanley, who has lived at the Blind Veterans Centre in Brighton since 2017, marked the milestone by taking part in a Tai Chi masterclass followed by an afternoon tea party at which staff read him his birthday card from the Queen.
Dozens of guests including his granddaughter Caroline sang him ‘Happy Birthday’ as he was presented with a special cake honouring his love of country and western music as well as Guinness.
Asked the secret to a long and happy life, John said: “I look after myself and I’ve got a good sense of humour. Keeping up with friends and my family also keeps me in good spirits.
“I also have a pint of Guinness most days. People who meet me can’t believe that I’m 100 so I must be doing something right!”
On the tea party organised for his milestone birthday, John said: “I was rather overwhelmed with all the fuss, but I felt very honoured that so many people showed up for me.
“I carried on the party quite late so I had a good lie in the next day.”
John was born on 15 August 1918 and grew up in Leigh, Lancashire. He started working in a local coal mine at the age of 14 before joining the Royal Air Force in August 1938.
He served as an armoured car driver in North Africa, the Persian Gulf and Gibraltar and was demobbed in April 1947.
Despite being a blind centenarian, John continues to enjoy social get-togethers with other blind veterans at the centre and indulging in his two great loves: music and the occasional pint.
John lost his sight due to age-related macular degeneration and has been supported by Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women, since 2016.