Sherry and chocolate help Bill reach his 103rd birthday

Celebrations mark Bill's 103rd birthday

RAF veteran Bill Stevens - who survived two crashes - celebrates his 103rd birthday - Credit: Field Lodge

A regular glass of sherry and a good supply of chocolate is part of the secret of living to a ripe old age, according to RAF veteran pilot Bill Stevens who has just turned 103.

Bill, who survived two helicopter crashes, lives at the Field Lodge care home in St Ives where he celebrated with family, fellow residents and staff.

He said: "I like a glass of sherry at night and lots of chocolate. Also, my real secret is to keep on breathing!”

Bill marked the milestone at his son’s home on the day before his birthday and was then treated to a special celebration at Field Lodge, including a birthday cake baked by the home’s head chef.

Born in London in 1918, Bill left school at the age of 14 to work at Sainsbury’s, before joining the RAF as part of the war effort. He was originally a physical training instructor before learning to fly in Rhodesia.

Bill met his wife Betty in 1939 but because of the war they did not marry until 1945. The couple went on to have a son David in 1955 while Bill was still serving as a pilot.

He undertook tours of Malaya and Borneo, where he survived two helicopter crashes, before retiring at the age of 55.

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 Bill then worked for the Ministry of Defence, and Marshall’s in Cambridge before moving into Field Lodge in 2019, where he enjoys birdwatching, watching sport, and keeping in touch with his two grandchildren, James and Clare.

Linda Martinez, home manager at Field Lodge, said: “Everyone had a wonderful time celebrating Bill’s birthday. Here at Field Lodge, we always strive to make an occasion of birthdays, and Bill’s 103rd was no exception."