ON JANUARY 20, former Canford Cliffs hotelier and war hero Philip Pridmore will be celebrating his 100 birthday.

Philip was born in the village of Glinton, near Peterborough.

He saw his future in the world of hospitality so left the flatlands of eastern England for further education, but his hotel training was interrupted by the start of the Second World War.

Aged 19, Philip completed pilot training in Scotland and was flown to Durban, South Africa where he and other newly-trained pilots were then transported to Bulawayo.

In Bulawayo, Philip learned to fly Dakotas and he spent much of the following five years in the skies over North Africa and Southeast Asia.

He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for a series of missions during which he rescued over 300 allied soldiers from behind enemy lines.

He received his DFC in the field, along with a letter from King George VI.

After the war, he and former actor Charles Fletcher opened Norfolk Lodge Hotel at the top of Flaghead Chine in Canford Cliffs. It was the first hotel in town to have radios in the rooms.

Younger guests also enjoyed collecting eggs from the chickens with "Uncle Philip" in the morning.

The following four decades saw the hotel full with guests every spring, summer and Christmas.

In retirement, Philip initially stayed in Canford Cliffs but later moved into the Dorset countryside with his partner Brian Riley.

Philip will be spending his 100 birthday with family and friends, reminiscing about singing in the Mikado and flying over the Western Desert, listening to some Rachmaninov and reflecting on the many achievements in his life.