Monty celebrates 100th birthday with a game of bowls

Harold Major celebrated his birthday in style, by enjoying a game of bowls at Horncastle and District IBC.

Monty (centre) celebrates with friends at Horncastle IBC.
Monty (centre) celebrates with friends at Horncastle IBC.

Having lived through the reign of all the Windsor Kings and Queens from George V to our present-day monarch Queen Elizabeth II, Monty - as he is known to friends - had his own celebration prior to the Platinum Jubilee.

The surprise match of bowls and lunch was organised by his close friend and bowling companion Colin Gosling who, after three months of planning, had arranged for 62 members and 10 of his family members to attend HIBC to help Monty celebrate this milestone in style.

One thing that Monty has not stopped is his beloved bowls.

He is a very active and competitive member of the Horncastle & District Indoor Bowls Club.

He plays in leagues and social bowls at least three days a week and, as his friends will tell you, hates losing.

But if he does it is always with his usual cheery smile.

One member mentioned that he wasn't sure he would make a 100 and Monty was heard saying 'don't worry I'm sure you will and I'll be there with you to celebrate'.

Considering how fit Monty looks and strides out down the bowling green he might be there even though he will be 120 when that milestone arrives.

Monty - one of the first mobile bakers in the British Army - always classes himself as one of the lucky ones, having survived World War 2, the D-Day landings and all the horrors he saw at the Belsen Concentration Camp.

Describing what he has seen as 'hell', Monty was happy to have survived and be able to return home from to his beloved Mareham-le-Fen.

As a mobile baker Monty's orders were to make sure everyone was fed.

Before Monty and his comrades arrived in France soldiers had been surviving on rations of dry biscuits so they were welcomed with open arms.

The smell of freshly baked bread and the taste definitely boosted morale.

They worked under canvas and wherever the troops advanced to so did Monty.

It was in one of these camps that Winston Churchill paid an impromptu visit and who should bake bread for this important visitor but Monty.

When they went to Belsen this was a different story, the camp had almost been evacuated but the smell of the horrors that had occurred lingered and it was decided that the baking would be done in a field outside the walls.

He finished the war in Denmark before being re-united back to Lincolnshire.

"It has always had a special place in my heart and I have always been happy there, so why move," he said.

He met his wife Bibby at an Army Camp and they were married in 1946 and went on to have two children, Geoffrey who lives in Horncastle and Ann who lives in Boston; as well as four grandchldren and seven great-grandchildren.

He was married to Bibby for over 70 years until she sadly passed away six years ago at the tender age of 93.

Apart from a short spell on the buses he has been a baker all his life.

He worked for the Myers family initially, when they had a bakery in Mareham; and then he and his wife ran their own bakery there for over 25 years until they retired.

A very remarkable man he still walks a mile a day, cooks all his own meals everyday and his own bread once a week.

He tends to keep off the cakes as he doesn't feel they do him any good at his age.

As well as a keen bowler Monty, whose birthday was May 25, started to play in the Mareham-le-fen Victory band at the age of 10 and continued to support the band until he had to give up playing in his 80s.