Retired smallholder Les Cross celebrated his 100th birthday with wife Lil (99) by his side – and fellow centenarian Norman Hotchkin and his wife, Marjorie (98).
Lil is due to turn 100 on November 7.
Les and Lil married 79 years ago and are Britain’s second longest married couple. Their old friends, Norman and Marjorie, have been married 69 years.
“When they sat together there was a combined age of nearly 400 and marriage of 148 years,” said Julia Beasley, Les and Lil’s granddaughter.
Les summed up the secret of a long life in one word: “Contentment”.
He spent his birthday party on Tuesday at Mayfield Residential Home, Holbeach, surrounded by family and friends, and there was a special guest, the Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire, Tony Worth, who read out a birthday greeting from the Queen.
There was also a greeting from Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.
Julia said: “Grandad said he enjoyed his birthday, from starting the day with one of his favourites of a full English fried breakfast, and enjoyed seeing many friends he’s not seen for a while and catching up with old times.”
Les and Lil celebrated their 79th wedding anniversary on February 2 this year.
Julia telephoned Buckingham Palace and says the only other greeting sent this year for a longer marriage was one for 80 years.
Les was born in Saracen’s Head, the only son of private Timothy Cross and Mary Jane Cross, and had two older half brothers. When he was aged about two, his father was injured in France and repatriated to Grimsby hospital but sadly died.
His mum also died when Les was a child so he was brought up by his grandmother and later lived with an aunt and uncle until he married Lil.
Les met Lil when he was cycling home from Holbeach and caught up with some friends.
They married at Long Sutton Register Office. They first lived with Lil’s parents in Whaplode, moved to their own home in the village’s Sholtsgate, bringing up four daughters, and lived in Surfleet for 55 years. They have one surviving daughter, Beryl Turner, a son-in-law Ted Beasley, and a second granddaughter, Juliette Turner.