War veteran celebrates 100th birthday

THE family of war veteran William Buchan were determined to ensure he had a 100th birthday to remember despite the latest national lockdown scuppering many planned celebrations.

William, a former British Army mechanic in WWII, reached the milestone on November 14 and the popular Top Mossley resident was left overwhelmed by the sheer number of well-wishers.

His family had planned a big celebration to mark the occasion but it was put on hold because of lockdown measures.

Granddaughter Hayley, 31, said: “We had hoped to get a full brass band to play outside his house but after the Government announcement we had to have a bit of a rethink.

William Buchan and his 100 Card from Queen

“In the end we arranged staggered window visits for family and friends, and we had a trombone player come over and all the neighbours sang happy birthday from their doorsteps.

“It really was a lovely day. He got his telegram from the Queen and so many other lovely cards and presents and we finished up with a socially distanced meal of fish and chips!”

Before joining the army in 1941, William worked in Manchester’s textile industry. He met his wife of 52 years, Sheila, while on leave and they had three children Alec, Janet and Ian.

Hayley continued: “Gran was close friends with grandad’s sister Joyce and one day she came over to their house to see Joyce but she had already gone out.

“Gran said she’d go home but grandad stood up and said, ‘No you won’t you’re coming out with me!’ That was pretty much that and they got married in 1952.”

Sheila and Bill

After the end of the war, William worked as a builder’s merchant and both he and Sheila were active members of the Mossley Methodist Church.

Hayley said: “Because grandad is so frail, he struggles to get out on his own these days, so he hasn’t been to church for a while, but he watches services on his tablet.

“Before gran passed away in 2004, he used to do a lot for the church, like woodworking and raising money for arthritis charities, and she would knit little dolls for the church to sell.”Though his birthday has been and gone, Hayley says the family has not abandoned their plans to have a big celebration for William once lockdown restrictions are lifted.

She said: “We’ve told him he’s not 100 until we can celebrate properly. We want to make it as special as we can, and we want the whole family to be together.

“He’s got five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, who he adores, and they’ve not been able to see him yet, but hopefully that’s something we will be able to do very soon.”

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