A CENTENARIAN who changed the future of vehicle safety by becoming the world's first distributor of child car seats has celebrated his 100th birthday.

Len Brown, who lives at Sunrise Senior Living of Westbourne, enjoyed a meal followed by a celebratory tea to mark the landmark birthday on Sunday, April 3, attended by his three children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Speaking about his life, his daughter, Natalie Baskin, said: "He was the world's first distributor, except in France, after the first car seat was invented by a man in France who worked in a shoe manufacturers. My father was an importer of tanning and shoe machinery in the UK, as it was big business.

"The chair revolutionised the way that you cared for your baby. However, it certainly wouldn't meet safety standards today. You had a tube of metal and the chair was an injection-moulded seat with a padded mattress, a harness to go around the waist and straps for the shoulders. In those days we didn't have seatbelts.

"As the baby got older, you could adapt it into a high chair and then it could be adapted again into a swing. From the multi-purpose Baby Relax, he also started making circular children's play pens."

Natalie said that her father converted his factory so that he had injection moulding machinery and said that he was 'always entrepreneurial', seeing opportunities which others had missed.

"He was part of the ground crew in the Air Force and was aware that they didn't know what to do with the old tyres, so he took them on. When he came out of the war, he made rubber adhesives and soles for shoes with them and then went into the leather tanning industry."

Mr Brown moved to Bournemouth in 1980 and has always maintained a healthy diet and exercised regularly, which he believes in the key to reaching the age of 100. He gave up smoking aged 50 and has never been a heavy drinker, Natalie added.

Wendy Blow, Senior Director of Community Relations at Sunrise of Westbourne, said that they 'love to make a fuss' of their residents on their birthdays.

She added that he is one of three centenarians at the carehome, with some more residents set to celebrate their 100th birthday throughout the rest of the year.