Eaton Socon man Tony Ingle celebrated his 100th birthday by donating cash raised at his party to a local nature reserve.

Tony Ingle served in the RAFTony Ingle served in the RAF

Tony's family organised a party in the garden of the home he shares with his wife Miriam, aged 91, and rather than bring presents, guests were asked to make a donation to the trustees of The Pightle.

The Pightle is an area of six-and-a-half acres of land which sits behind Shakespeare Road, in Eaton Socon, and Tony has enjoyed a daily walk around the field almost every day since he retired 35 years ago.

The trustees have placed a bench, which has a plaque which reads 'Tony Ingle's Bench' and a tree has also been planted in his honour.

The former refrigeration engineer says he has always liked to keep busy and enjoys the simple pleasures in life and his daily walks mean a lot to him. Tony is Miriam's main carer and walking around The Pightle allows him some time on his own. He stills makes most of the meals and always cooks a Sunday roast as well as doing all the washing and other household chores.

Tony Ingle on his bench at The PightleTony Ingle on his bench at The Pightle

"I come every day, whatever the weather, and it is lovely to have some time to myself and I like to see the changing seasons and say hello to all the dog walkers. When I retired, my family told me I needed to keep busy so one of my daughters bought a dog and I used to walk it around The Pightle and came to love it here. The walk to The Pightle gives me a focus and think about my life and how lucky I have been.

"When I heard the trustees were giving me a bench I told them 'the politicians and the councillors have their seats and the Queen has her throne, but they are surrounded by walls, my seat is out in the open air."

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Tony attended primary school at the old school house in School Lane and for many years his family, many of whom were coachbuilders by trade, lived along the Great North Road. He said his father told stories about how children played with spinning tops on the Great North Road, which is now the main road that runs through the village and connects the town with the A1.

Going back several generations, his family also formerly owned the old windmill in Duloe Road, which has since been converted into a house.

Tony has always kept himself fit and played football for Eaton Socon Football Club and for many years he also served as secretary of the club. He was also a keen rower and hockey player.

He joined the RAF as an engineer and served, mostly in Sir Lanka, where he was a 'fitter' who was responsible for keeping aircraft in good order. He came home in 1946 and he and Miriam had four children and they now have 10 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

Although his family are incredibly proud of him, Tony says he does get told off sometimes.

"My daughter came round a few weeks ago and caught me up an apple tree with a saw, I did get a telling off. But the thing is I still feel I can do all these things, but it probably was a bit silly."

Asked about his secret for long life, he said: "Family, they are the most important thing. As long as my wife and I are together I am happy as you never know what's around the corner. Also, enjoying the simple things in life. There is a lot to be said for just being content with life."