A SECOND World War veteran has celebrated his 100th birthday by reuniting with family he hasn’t seen for decades.

RAF soldier John Sproat was surprised by his younger sister Mary, 95, and his 85-year-old brother Jim, who he hadn’t seen for almost 30 years.

The trio were joined by other well-wishes a the community hall of Sir E.D.Walker Homes on Coniscliffe Road in Darlington for a special party.

Loading article content

The party included an RAF cake and the traditional birthday card from the Queen which is sent out to mark centenary celebrations.

Born in Mount Oswald in Durham, Mr Sproat, who is commonly known as Jack, was called up to serve in the RAF when he was 23 after previously working in the transport sector.

He fought alongside the men of Field Marshal Montgomery in the Second World War’s North Africa campaign, which ran from June 1940 to May 1943.

“The whole party was such a lovely treat and it was an incredible surprise seeing Mary and Jimmy again," said Mr Sproat.

Recalling his days spent serving his country, Mr Sproat added: “We had to drive well forward and spot the enemy craft then radio back their co-ordinates.

“We worked closely with the army and saw a lot of action - I was one of the lucky ones.”

Mr Sproat spent the rest of his working career in the construction industry.

Before he retired, he worked as a maintenance man at Darlington’s Arts Centre.

The birthday party was also used to raise money for the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund. which raises money for residential care, housing and the general welfare of ex-RAF servicemen and women.

Jane Reed, manager at Sir E.D. Walker Homes, said: "Jack is amazing, very determined and house proud.

"He does his own ironing and hand-washing and still goes down the town.

"He is such a lovely man," she added.

Alasdair MacConachie, chairman of Sir E.D. Walker Homes, said: “I am delighted to wish Jack a very happy 100th birthday.

“A resident for the past 20 years, he remains a very enthusiastic tenant and a popular soul who is very special to us.

"The work of the RAF Benevolent Fund is vital, so to support it is the least we can do to pay back in some small way the huge debt we owe Jack and the other members of the Armed Forces that serve this country so well," he added.