100 years on, life is still full of surprises
A SURPRISE party was thrown to celebrate the 100th birthday of a Cranbrook war veteran.
Alf Haselup reached the landmark age on Saturday, January 5, so was not expecting all of his friends, family, the Mayor of Tunbridge Wells and a large cake to be waiting for him when he went as usual to the weekly Wednesday lunch club at Cranbrook Primary School.
Mr Haselup said: "This is amazing, I am just overwhelmed by it all."
Mr Haselup, a bachelor who has lived in Oatfield Close for more than 30 years, served in the RAF during the Second World War as a Spitfire electrician.
Born and raised in Camberwell, Mr Haselup was one of four siblings and secured a job as a street lighter when he was 15.
At 21 he became an electrician and soon got a job converting street lights from gas to electric.
When war broke out, he was called up to serve and was stationed in Malta from 1941 to 1942, facing starvation and terrible conditions.
During his time there he was under constant bombardment every day and night from German bombers as he serviced Spitfires and installed runway cables.
More than 3,000 raids were launched and in the first six months of 1942 there was only one 24-hour period without air raids.
Mayor Councillor John Smith told Mr Haselup: "I'm sure most of us wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for your efforts during the war. The world could have been a much different place."
The party was organised by Mike Bedford, who drives Mr Haselup to the lunch club.
The school choir provided entertainment by singing songs including wartime classic We'll Meet Again and Mr Haselup was presented with a signed print of a Spitfire by Cranbrook and Sissinghurst Parish Council.
He also received a card from The Queen and a letter of congratulations from the Prime Minister of Malta.
Mr Bedford said: "The King presented the George Cross to the whole island after everything they had been through and so a colleague at the Maltese embassy was able to get a message for Alf from the Maltese Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi."
Alf's nephew Alan Haselup thanked everyone for their kind wishes and gifts.