Popular Melton man Harold Veazey has passed away just four months after celebrating his 100th birthday.
He spent his last moments with devoted daughter Christine Saxby at Rutland Memorial Hospital, in Oakham, on Sunday.
Harold featured on ITV show ‘100-Year-Old Drivers’, showing off his driving skills in his late 90s and he continued to drive up until recently.
There was much more to his remarkable life, though, including making vital parts for Spitfires and working in bomb disposal during the Second World War, winning an award for being Leicestershire’s oldest athlete and doing dedicated voluntary work at local churches.
Harold was diagnosed with a non-aggressive form of lung cancer in the summer and he also suffered a mini stroke recently.
His health took a turn for the worse after his birthday in September, according to Christine, of Wymondham Way.
She said: “He had been going downhill since October and he had lost his spark in the last few weeks.
“Dad was really pleased to have got to 100 and he just took one day at a time as he got older.
“He never shied away from talking about death and because he had his faith it was just the next step for him.
“He always said ‘I’m ready to go when He calls me, but I’m not ready to go yet’.”
Harold was born in 1918 in Castle Donington, in Leicestershire, and had older twin brothers called Tom and Charlie.
As a child he was close friends with Johnnie Johnson, who went on to become a legendary Dambusters pilot during the Second World War.
Harold served with the Leicestershire Yeomanry during the war, working in bomb disposal work on the home front.
As a trained engineer he also worked at the old British Thomas Houston factory, in Leicester, making important components for Spitfires.
He met wife Win while they were both employed at the factory, marrying at St Mary’s, Melton, in 1948.
Harold, who was a keen footballer in his youth, lived an active life into old age and was still cleaning altar cloths at the church when he was 99 and attending services every week.
He stopped smoking 50 years ago, but enjoyed the occasional Three Barrels Brandy, and walked around Melton Country Park every day.
Christine said: “Most people give up when they are 90 but not dad.
“He got two new knees, started going to the gym three times a week, went to drop-in sessions and joined the stroke club.”
Harold also became a TV star in his 90s when he was approached after publicity over his award for winning the title of the oldest Leicestershire athlete.
Christine said: “Being on television didn’t really affect him because he was a very humble man and he didn’t really want his 15 minutes of fame.
“He was a bit sceptical at first and we tried to talk him out of it because we didn’t know what the knock-on effects would be.
“He got recognised a lot after it came out but he was well known in the town anyway.”
She added: “I used to see him every day because he only lived down the road on Elgin Drive. I feel a bit lost without him now.”
Harold also leaves a son, Ian, who lives in Dubai and four grand-daughters. He will sadly miss seeing the birth of his first great-grandson, who is due to be born to grand-daughter Annabelle in April.
A funeral service will be at St Mary’s, Melton, at 11am on February 8, followed by cremation at Loughborough at 12.30pm. Refreshments will then be served back at St Mary’s at the wake.