Any reporter who has ever worked in local or regional journalism will know there are certain bread and butter stories that come up like clockwork: the diamond wedding, the fete, the cheque presentation, and the 100-year-old.
Many of the above occasions tend to provide predictable stories which fill newspaper space but do not really make headlines, but back when I was a reporter I was lucky enough to conduct a few memorable and eye-opening interviews. One example is the couple who, one the eve of their 60th wedding anniversary, vividly described a screaming row which ended with the husband ducking to avoid a heavy casserole dish thrown towards his head from six feet away. Or, there was the cheeky centenarian who swore by drinking a hefty glass of whiskey and puffing on a tobacco-filled pipe every day.
So I was thrilled to read last week about Elmswell-born Frank Kerridge, who has just turned 100.
What interested me initially was the fact Frank still lives at home (with his cat Spooky), drives his car, tends his garden and enjoys baking. Having met several centenarians in the past, Frank sounded like a man still active and in full possession of all his marbles.
But that was just the start, because he has had an amazing life.
A former prisoner of war, Frank was put to work on the Burma railway for two years before being shipped to Japan. At the end of the war he was taken from his prison camp on a train which passed through Hiroshima after the atomic bomb had been dropped. No-one on the train was told what had happened, but they were told not to look out of the train’s windows.
On his return to England, Frank was reunited with his late wife Madeline, who he met aged 17 when he won a coconut at a fair. The pair were married for 71 years until she died in 2010.
Frank says he doesn’t feel 100, and ‘just gets on with it’. He spent his milestone birthday partying with 60 guests.
Now, put your hand up if you aspire to be just like Frank if you make your century. Let’s face it, who wouldn’t? He is, quite simply, an inspiration.