High Street is a highlight for sporting soldier’s centenary

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Gerald Loveday had insisted on the ambition to mark the milestone. The hearty ex-physical training instructor, who served in Germany and Northern Ireland, carried on the festivities with back-to-back parties over the weekend.

Forty-three family members representing all five generations assembled to celebrate at Poult Wood Golf Club after their walk through the town centre.

The next day saw 72 people gather at Tonbridge Bowling Club for afternoon tea.

He was presented with his centenary card from the Queen by his great nephew Jonathan Loveland, who works as a postman in Tonbridge.

His daughter Glynnis told the Times: “Jonathan asked his boss if he could deliver it because it was such an honour.

My father was very pleased, because family means a lot to him.”

She added: “He’s always said he wanted to walk up the High Street on his 100th birthday.

“Everybody knows him – he used to push my mother to Tunbridge Wells in her wheelchair. He was always very fit as a PT instructor.”

Among the group was Sadie Williams, a former teacher at Hugh Christie whose two sons had been taught by Mr Loveday.

He was a PE teacher for many years at St George’s, a private school on Pembury Road in Tunbridge Wells which no longer exists.

Mrs Fowler added: “I heard one man say he had read about the 100-year-old man on Facebook, and another came down specially to shake his hand, which was lovely.”

Born in Gillingham, he grew up in Barden Road and came back to the town after he left the Army, and again 1981 after a spell in the United States.

He had four children with his wife Marie, whom he married in Tonbridge Parish Church on Christmas Day during World War Two.

They had four children, and now he also has 10 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

Mrs Fowler described him as a ‘boy soldier’ because he had joined up in 1933 at the age of 14 – and he was only four feet eight and a half inches tall.

He was unable to follow his brothers in attending the Duke of York Royal Military School in Dover because he contracted rheumatic fever, which forced him to spend a long time in hospital.

Instead he joined the Army, where he was a drummer with the Northamptonshire regiment for eight years before joining the Physical Training Corps.

Sergeant Loveday went on to become an Army champion at boxing and cross country before he was discharged in 1959.

He remains very fit and independent. Mrs Fowler said ‘he lives on his own and looks after himself – and he is often to be found on the bus to Brighton, Bromley Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells’.


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