Former WW2 pilot from St Ives celebrates 100th birthday

100-year-old Denis Hallisey from St Ives

100-year-old Denis Hallisey from St Ives - Credit: Archant

A SECOND World War pilot celebrating his 100th birthday was reunited with a wartime crew member who joined him in the cockpit of a Sunderland aircraft – 70 years to the day after flying one over enemy territory.

Denis Hallisey, of St Ives, who turned 100 on Wednesday, met his former co-pilot Lew Day, 89, at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford.

Mr Day, who now lives in Auckland, was flown over for the celebrations, and they were given special permission to climb onboard the Sunderland.

Mr Hallisey, who often visited Duxford to help restore the Sunderland, was also treated to a 35-minute flight in a glider from Gransden Lodge Airfield over Royston and Cambridge.

A packed schedule of birthday celebrations included watching cricket at Hemingford on Friday, an open house on Saturday and lunch at The Swan at Conington on Sunday.

Also on Friday, a surprise party was held in his honour at the Church of the Sacred Heart, St Ives, where he attends mass every Sunday morning.

Party organiser Elizabeth Barker said: “You wouldn’t know for a minute he’s 100. He’s remarkable really.”

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Mr Hallisey and his wife Beryl, who was from Yorkshire and died in 2000, moved to Hemingford Abbotts in the mid-1950s from West Sussex.

The couple had three sons, Jeremy, Mike and Chris, and a daughter, Maura, although Jeremy, who was a doctor and lived in the United States, died of cancer aged 43 in 1994.

For the majority of his working life, Mr Hallisey was a customs and excise officer based in Huntingdon. He has seven grandchildren.

His son, Chris, said his father’s longevity owed a lot to keeping busy. “He almost always declines offers and does his own shopping.

“Every day he goes to see someone in the hospital or does this and that.

“I take him out every single Sunday for lunch. He has a pint of beer or a red wine – a bit of everything in moderation.”