FORMER accountant Wilfred Smith has been given a unique honour as he approaches his 100th birthday in Felpham.
Mr Smith is the first person to be given an honorary life membership of the Institute of Financial Accountants.
He has been presented with a certificate and commemorative shield to mark his new status.
His longevity has given him a lifespan longer than the institute: he was four when it was formed in 1916 and has been a member since 1930.
He said: “I’m proud of the achievements I have made during my career.
“I had my own practice, a good portfolio of clients and have managed to invest in a number of properties.”
Mr Smith is set to celebrate his 100th birthday at Oakland Court in Admiralty Road on December 22.
But he never intended to be an accountant when he was growing up.
“When I was at school, I was top of my class in both maths and music but it was music that I was really interested in.
“When I was 18 I wanted to pursue a career in music and was playing with a large orchestra”, he said.
“The conductor at that time happened to be an accountant and he wrote to my parents asking if I could join his practice.”
His first wage was £15 shillings (75p) a week and he realised the need for professional qualifications if his early promise in his career was to continue.
He heard about the IFA and it accepted his exam attempts with another body and allowed him to join.
Mr Smith soon started an accountancy practice which was halted by the second world war.
He served with the City of London Yeomanry Tank Regiment before he restarted his practice.