Ackworth centenarian Lawrie celebrates his birthday with his weekly lunch of fish and mushy peas.

A former RAF electrician from Ackworth who worked on Lancaster Bombers during World War Two, celebrated his 100th birthday last week with a visit to his favourite fish and chip shop.

Thursday, 13th May 2021, 5:35 pm
Updated Thursday, 13th May 2021, 5:36 pm
John Lawrence (Lawrie) on his way to pick up his lunch of fish and mushy peas.

Centenarian John Lawrence, known as Lawrie, never fails to visit Hillside Fisheries for his weekly fix of fish and mushy peas.

Lawrie was born on May 5, 1921, and was brought up by his father in Pontefract. He never knew his mother.

He attended St Joseph’s school and left aged 14 to take up an apprenticeship as an electrician, working on the new houses that were springing up all over the town.

In 1939, a few months after Lawrie turned 18, war was declared and he enlisted in the RAF.

Posted to RAF West Drayton in London he was trained to repair radios and graduated the course with high honours.

He then joined a six-man team who travelled around the country to different airfields repairing and installing new radios in Lancaster Bombers.

Towards the end of the war the Fleet Air Arm - the aviation branch of the Royal Navy - was looking for volunteers and so Lawrie made the switch and worked on damaged planes returning from aircraft carriers at Lee-on-the-Solent in Hampshire.

He was demobbed in 1945, and went back to work as an electrician. One job involved installing the wiring in 58 houses on the new housing estate in Carlton.

He met Margaret Oldroyd at a party in the Malt Shovel Hotel and she soon became his wife.

In later life she suffered with a severe form of arthritis and Lawrie cared for until her death.

The couple had one daughter Susan, a nurse who went to work in London and married a French doctor. They returned to live in France and have one son Stefan, Lawrie’s grandson, who is a surgeon.

In 1984 while on a visit to see his family in France he had a mild heart attack at the airport and was offered the chance of a triple heart bypass operation - which he took.

It was a resounding success and Lawrie has been in excellent health ever since and can’t even remember when he last saw a doctor.

He said: "I believe in moderation in all things. I gave up smoking my pipe and drinking beer after the heart operation and now only indulge in the occasional tot of whisky."

As well as enjoying his fish and chip lunch, Lawrie’s neighbours threw him a small party for his birthday and he was thrilled to get a telegram from the queen.