TWO cakes marked the start of a special year for Bognor Regis centenarian Donald Mallet.
Mr Mallett celebrated his 100th birthday on New Year’s Day with the two large cakes and a party for ten relatives and friends. He said he had taken the personal milestone with ease. “Nothing has changed now I’m 100,” he said. “I keep quite well.”
Mr Mallett’s special day took place in Normanton Lodge care home where he has lived since December 2011. But his links with Bognor go back to his childhood.
“I got to know Bognor as my mother and father came down here for holidays. This is the best bit of the coasts. Coming out of London, everything was so fresh.”
Mr Mallett was born in Brixton, south London, and had two brothers and a sister. They left Brixton when he was 13 and moved to Lancing.
He was apprenticed to his father, a plumber, to carry on a family tradition since the late 18th century.
“It was very nice working with my father,” he said.
He married Gwen in London in 1941 and was directed to Coventry to work in the manufacture of essential parts for making aircraft. His daughter, Helen, was born in the city in 1944.
The family moved back to London after the war and his son, Daniel, was born there in September, 1945.
The postwar period saw Mr Mallett in Malta to help to rebuild its badly bombed capital, Valetta. He moved on to Spain to teach plumbing.
His return to Britain came in 1952 when his extended family moved to Bognor to run a guest house in The Steyne known as Pier View, before they changed its name to Bath House.
Mr Mallett began by cooking the meals before he went back to plumbing.
His final years in the trade saw him doing lead work by hand. He made and replaced items like the finial at Holy Cross Church in North Bersted. He also worked on the lead renovation of Woolbeding House. His last job was making the new finial for Arundel Cathedral.
He and Gwen spent much of his early retirement travelling around Europe.
They moved into Normanton Lodge together. Gwen died a year later.
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