A NORMANDY veteran who spent his working life helping people to walk has celebrated his 100th birthday.

Wilfred Elkington was surrounded by his family as he opened his telegram from the Queen and enjoyed a party at the Reside Care Home in Southwood Road, Southbourne .

He was born in the West Midlands and moved to Bournemouth four years ago to be closer to his daughter and son-in-law Margaret and Howard Prestwood. He also has five grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

Wilf was married to his childhood sweetheart Ivy May for 65 years but was widowed 12 years ago.

He was a staff sergeant in the Royal Medical Corps when he landed in Arromanches during the Second World War. He then marched to Bayeux, where he cared for war casualties before catching rheumatic fever himself.

After the war, he set up his own business making and repairing surgical shoes and he continued working until he was 69.

Daughter Margaret said: “Dad has always been extremely kind and patient. People always used to stop him on walks and hug and kiss him because he had helped children and adults to walk.

“He made surgical shoes by hand and people used to stop him in the street and thank him. Many stayed in touch with him for years.”

Asked about the secret of his long life, Wilf said: “You’ve got to keep on going and trust in people.”