Joy as 'really special character' celebrates his centenary
PUBLISHED: 15:38 22 May 2019 | UPDATED: 15:39 22 May 2019
"A wonderful party for a really special character."
That was the reaction of friends and family as an Oulton Broad man celebrated his centenary in style.
Charlie Read was surrounded by family and friends as a special party was held to mark his 100th birthday celebrations.
Recalling the many years he worked on shipyards in Lowestoft, Mr Read worked as a boilermaker and welder at shipyards building and repairing an assortment of vessels but working mostly on trawlers.
After spells at Brooke Marine and LBS Engineering he spent more than 30-years working at Richards Shipbuilders.
He said that several factors had contributed to his long life - which included riding a bicycle back and forward to work for 50 years as he covered 10 miles a day.
Mr Read had also never smoked but did enjoy an occasional beer.
Born in Mizpah Cottages on Bridge Road, Oulton Broad, he was an only child and loved river fishing for eels.
Just a month after Britain declared war on Germany he married his first wife Gertrude on October 3 1939. They were bombed out of their home in May 1941. The pair were together for 64 years and had two daughters Jill and Ruth.
Mr Read built two bungalows for the family in Holly Road in Oulton Broad and subsequently moved a number of times mainly in Lowestoft area.
After his first wife died he married again to Millie and lived in Aldwyck Way and then Caddies Walk before she suffered ill health and died.
He then met and developed a friendship with Jean who had family connections in Australia, New Zealand and Scotland - all of which, despite their advancing years, they visited together.
When he was 91 the pair were in Australia and he climbed up the steps of Sydney Opera House.
But with his mobility declining Mr Read moved to Hildesley Court sheltered housing in Pakefield where he has been for about eight years.
Friends, family and residents of Hildesley Court gathered last Thursday, May 16 to celebrate his 100th birthday as then joined in with singing a chorus of 'congratulations' to Charlie - before guests wearing a range of royal face masks visited.
Mr Read's daugher Ruth said: "It was lovely to see so many here to celebrate with Charlie.
"Jill's son and his wife have travelled from Thailand to be here.
"He was thrilled to receive a card from the Queen and a message of congratulations from Amber Rudd, secretary of state for work and pensions.
"And as a finale to the party, two celebratory cakes were cut, ending a wonderful party for a really special character."