Veteran told he had three months to live after World War II celebrates his 100th birthday


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The Independent Online

Every 100th birthday is a cause for celebration, but even more so when you are a war veteran who has cheated death.

Percy Norton, who turns 100 on Friday, was given just three months to live when he returned from the Second World War with serious injuries. 

But the former butcher, from East Tuddenham in Norfolk, beat the odds to celebrate his centenary with a card from the Queen.

“It’s an achievement – not everybody gets a card from the Queen,” he said.

Mr Norton earned himself the nickname ‘Percy the Resurrection’ after overcoming injuries inflicted in a shell blast to his abdomen, spleen and lungs.

The King’s Lynn-born soldier spent 13 months in hospital and was left with only a partial lung.

It wasn’t until he returned to the same hospital in 1945, some 18 months later, that  he realised how lucky he had been.

Mr Norton told the Norfolk Eastern Daily Press: “I remember when I went to see the matron at the hospital, I went to the door and the nurse came. I said ‘get me the matron please’ and the matron came.

“She stood there as if she had seen a ghost and said: ‘Percy the resurrection’ and told me how they had sent me home with three months to live. They couldn’t tell me at the time.

“But I’ve had a very good life. I’ve had a very enjoyable life, apart from the 13 months in hospital.”

Mr Norton lost his wife, Ellen, in 1991 with whom he had two daughters: Marilyn, 58, and Angela, 66.

The centenarian, who took a trip on Concorde before it was retired and was still driving up until six years ago, puts his long life down to keeping fit.

“I used to go in for nearly every sport there was – running, cycling, cross-country. I would cycle to Holt, North Walsham and I used to hold the record for cycling up one of the hills at Ringland Hills,” he said. “I’ve always been fit. I’ve been fit all my life, I’ve always been one for sport and exercise; every sort of sport and getting in the gym. I put my long life down to hard work, healthy life and healthy diet.“

Mr Norton and Marilyn also go to dog shows up and down the country. They have nine dachshunds and have qualified for Crufts every year since Mr Norton and his late wife started to enter and have won a number of rosettes, including Best of Breed in 2012.