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Football fanatic marks 100th birthday with a party
A FOOTBALL fanatic from Burford celebrated his 100th birthday with a card from the Queen yesterday.
Tom Thomas was born on March 3, 1913, in the Rhonda Valley in South Wales, but has lived in Burford for more than 85 years.
Friends and family gathered at Burford Bowls Club, off Tanners Lane, to mark the occasion.
Everyone enjoyed a slice of cake and looking at a board of photographs showing different periods of Mr Thomas’s life.
Mr Thomas said: “I was a bit nervous about the party but I enjoyed the day with my family and friends.”
He moved to Burford to get a job when he was just 14, finding employment as a kitchen boy at the Cotswold Gateway Hotel.
Mr Thomas later became a cook at the hotel. He played football for Burford Town until he joined the Army in 1939. He married his wife, Elsie, in 1940 on his first leave from the Army.
They moved into a property together in Burford and brought up their five daughters.
They enjoyed 55 years of marriage before Elsie passed away on March 2, 1995, aged 86.
During the Second World War, Mr Thomas served as a soldier in South Africa and as a cook in the Army in France and Belgium. After the war he returned to work at the hotel. He kept pigs and used to regularly collect swill from hotels in Burford.
He then joined Smiths Industries in Witney, working for the aeronautical and automotive instrument manufacturer until 1965, when he took on a gardening job at the Golden Pheasant Inn.
Incredibly, he continued working there until 10 years ago, finally retiring at the age of 90.
His daughter Maureen Turner, 71, from Carterton, said football has always played a part in her father’s life. Mrs Turner said: “He does like his football on the telly. That’s all he watches. All the kids support Man Utd so he supports them to keep in with them.
“He just loves football. He used to cycle from Burford to Swindon to watch games on his days off.”
Mr Thomas continues to live very independently and is still a very keen gardener, with two greenhouses.
He also takes a weekly 40-mile round trip on the bus to the Tesco supermarket in Abingdon as he likes to do his own shopping.
He has 15 grandchildren and 29 great-grandchildren, and he said the love and support from his family keeps him happy.