War veteran Ray Shemeld celebrates 100th birthday surrounded by family

Centenarian Ray Shemeld at his party held at Rushmere Village Hall with generations of his family.

Centenarian Ray Shemeld at his party held at Rushmere Village Hall with generations of his family.

A Second World War veteran, described as a “lovely old gent loved by everyone”, celebrated his 100th birthday today.

Mayor and Mayoress of Ipswich Bill and Barbara Quinton present centenarian Ray Shemeld with a medal

Mayor and Mayoress of Ipswich Bill and Barbara Quinton present centenarian Ray Shemeld with a medal to mark his birthday.

Ray Shemeld, who was a lieutenant for the Navy Reserve during the conflict, said spending the day with his extended family at Rushmere Village Hall was “marvellous”.

Mr Shemeld, of The Lawns, Rushmere St Andrew, still drives and gets his own shopping, does his own ironing and was still playing golf until only around 18 months ago.

The birthday party attended by just under 30 family members from across the country was kept secret from him.

It was arranged by his son-in-law Graham Barton, 70, of Dales View Road, Ipswich.

Mr Shemeld said: “It was a marvellous day. We had a marvellous meal and everyone went to considerable trouble for my special day. I am very grateful to them. They look after me day after day.

“Everything was a surprise and kept in the dark! They are very good to me.”

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Mr Shemeld was married to Gladys for more than 60 years before she sadly passed away in 2008.

He was previously the secretary of Rushmere Village Hall and performed in the Ipswich Choral Society until he retired at the age of 90.

Mr Barton said: “We had a brilliant day. He is a very lovely old gent loved by everyone. I can’t fault him. He has still got a sense of humour and all his marbles. He is lovely to be with.”

Mr Shemeld, who worked in excise and customs for the majority of his working life, has a granddaughter, Maria, 31, and a great-granddaughter Kaytlyn Hendry, four.