St Ives community man and “real war hero” celebrates his 100th birthday

100th Birthday of Philip ("Pip") Harrison, at St Ives Golf Club, with ( l-r) Jack Millard, (94) of t

100th Birthday of Philip ("Pip") Harrison, at St Ives Golf Club, with ( l-r) Jack Millard, (94) of the Royal Navy Artic Convoys, and Harry Bellars, (93) of the Royal Marine Commandos - Credit: Archant

A former Huntingdon Grammar School pupil who has been described as a “community man” celebrated his 100th birthday last Saturday with family and friends.

Philip (Pip) Harrison, from Houghton, turned 100 on June 11 and enjoyed a party with 162 guests at St Ives Golf Club, where he is still a member.

Pip, as he is known to family and friends, was born in the now demolished Philbert’s Walk in St Ives in 1915. He was one of six children and his only surviving sibling, Alan, who is 93, attended the event on Saturday, as did former Huntingdon Grammar School friend Betty Atkinson (nee Softly) who is 99.

Pip married Cynthia Staughton (Tink), who died in 2014, in 1948 and the couple, who were married for 66 years, had four children.

During a teaching career that spanned several decades, Pip became well known and respected in the community, said his son Bill Harrison.

“He was really something of a local celebrity,” said Bill. “He made a speech at his party and said he was very flattered by all the attention, but he really was very active – a community man.

“He was headmaster at Earith Primary School and then Bluntisham Primary School and therefore he was known to hundreds of local children who are aged between 45 and 80 themselves now, and he seems to remember all of them.

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“Prior to becoming a headmaster he taught at the North Road School in St Ives under Sidney Frith.”

Bill described his father as loving and an inspirational role model, and someone who enjoyed a smoke and a drink, although not to excess.

Pip was a keen swimmer and boxer at London University, which he attended after leaving Huntingdon Grammar School in 1933. He took up golf in 1960 and is a former captain and president of St Ives Golf Club and was also chairman of Houghton Parish Council in the 1980s.

Pip served as a signalman in the Royal Navy during the Second World War and during one two-year period he completed 11 Russian Arctic convoys on the destroyer HMS Intrepid. He earned himself campaign medals, including a Burma Star.

He marched past the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day in 2013 and Bill plans to take his father again this year.

“In the end he fought on every continent and the Royal Navy Association described him as a real war hero,” said Bill.