A RETIRED master builder who still drives, enjoys going for walks and is hands-on in the garden turned 100 at the weekend.

Ron Southwell, of Lower Parkstone, celebrated the occasion surrounded by a group of 38 close friends and family at the Carlton Hotel in Bournemouth. 

Born in Romsey, Ron recounted how he left school at 14 to do manual work and married wife Nellie at the age of 20 on November 17, 1934.

He said: “My first job was to work on farmland with sheep and pigs. I loved the fresh air and I earned seven and six – which was a lot of money for a boy in his first job back then.

“I saw Nellie standing in the farmhouse door. She was perfect. I knew then that she was the one for me.”

The happy couple celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 1984 before Nellie sadly died two years later in 1986 after 52 years of marriage, having had three children and two grandchildren.

During his career Ron spent time working in Barton on Sea and spent more than two decades in London managing the maintenance of several West End restaurants.

Ron now lives entirely independently, doing his household chores, cooking, driving himself around town and meeting up with friends.

“You see old people who can barely see above the wheel when they are driving. I am not like that,” said Ron.

His daughter, Janet Leto, said he was given a new lease of life when he had two knee replacement operations aged 90 and climbs the stairs independently. 

She added: “He always has a project on the go. He likes to make cakes, does his washing and is still incredibly active.”

At the party his granddaughter, Clare James, read out a poem praising his determination and calling him a ‘very special man’.

She said his motto for life is: “Do all the things and eat all the things they say you shouldn’t.”