Welwyn's steady Eddie celebrates his 100th birthday

PUBLISHED: 16:34 03 July 2018 | UPDATED: 16:35 03 July 2018

Eddie at 100. Picture: www.stevepearcyphotography.co.uk

Eddie at 100. Picture: www.stevepearcyphotography.co.uk

www.stevepearcyphotography.co.uk

A Welwyn man revealed his secret to long life after he celebrated his hundredth birthday.

Eddie (centre) with (L-R) grandson Matthew, daughters Carol and Angela, granddaughter Clare holding great granddaughter Macy. Picture: www.stevepearcyphotography.co.ukEddie (centre) with (L-R) grandson Matthew, daughters Carol and Angela, granddaughter Clare holding great granddaughter Macy. Picture: www.stevepearcyphotography.co.uk

Edgar Frank Llewellyn Slater - or “Eddie” to his family - celebrated his centenary on Saturday, June 30.

He’s a century old and almost completely blind, but he was still out mowing the lawn last week.

“Dad is one of the characters in the village,” said his daughter Angela Saxton.

He only quit working as a gardener at the age of 92, when his sight began to fail due to macular degeneration.

Eddie sharing a joke with Angela's husband Ken. Picture: www.stevepearcyphotography.co.ukEddie sharing a joke with Angela's husband Ken. Picture: www.stevepearcyphotography.co.uk

In fact, unstoppable Eddie was reluctant to have a stairlift installed in his home, and he now declares it’s “too slow”.

Born in Barley, near Royston, he is the eldest boy of a family of nine children.

He left school at 14 to work at a poultry farm in Bulls Green in Datchworth, before volunteering for the army in 1937.

In the second world war, he served with the Essex regiment and fought in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Palestine and Egypt.

Eddie sharing a joke with Angela's husband Ken. Picture: www.stevepearcyphotography.co.ukEddie sharing a joke with Angela's husband Ken. Picture: www.stevepearcyphotography.co.uk

He was badly injured in Libya, so was sent away from the front line to Cairo.

There they put him to work making decoy buildings to fool the German forces that an area was more populated than it looked.

“Although there was a war going on, he used to mix with the local people,” said Angela, adding that he picked up Arabic on his travels.

After the war, he met and married Barbara - known to most as Joan - and settled in Welwyn.

Eddie (centre) with (L-R) grandson Matthew, daughters Carol and Angela, granddaughter Clare holding great granddaughter Macy. Picture: www.stevepearcyphotography.co.ukEddie (centre) with (L-R) grandson Matthew, daughters Carol and Angela, granddaughter Clare holding great granddaughter Macy. Picture: www.stevepearcyphotography.co.uk

Sadly, Joan passed away in 1988.

The couple had daughters Angela and Carol, and now Eddie is the proud grandfather of two and a great-grandfather to another two.

Eddie still lives in the same house he and Joan moved into back in 1947, where Angela recalls “he worked every hour he could work.”

He turned his practical skills designing and building welding machines for an engineering company.

Eddie at 100. Picture: www.stevepearcyphotography.co.ukEddie at 100. Picture: www.stevepearcyphotography.co.uk

“Anything that is practical he can turn his hand to.

“He wasn’t formally qualified as an engineer, but he can do all of it,” said Angela.

The family home was the first one on the street to have a car and a television.

The entire street gathered in his and Joan’s home to watch the Queen’s coronation in 1953 on the brand-new telly.

“He’s quite a determined person and he realised that the way to get things is through hard work,” said Angela.

Later in life, he formed a band that toured care homes to entertain the elderly, cracking jokes and playing the mouth organ.

The band reunited on Friday night, along with many of Eddie’s friends and family, at a birthday celebration at Welwyn Sports and Social Club.

When he’s not partying he stays active, and still grows tomatoes, potatoes and cucumbers with the help of his nephew Matthew.

“He’s got the right attitude to life,” said Angela. “He’s quite cheerful, and always sees the funny side.”

She says his favourite expressions are “keep smiling” and “I count my blessings.”

Asked what is his secret to long life, Angela said: “Being positive and always staying cheerful.

“Plus a drop of Guinness!”

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