Wartime code breaker celebrates 100th birthday in Marlborough

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Harry Beckhough celebrates his 100th birthday at Marlborough Conservative Club with Devizes MP Claire Perry Harry Beckhough celebrates his 100th birthday at Marlborough Conservative Club with Devizes MP Claire Perry

Prime Minister David Cameron took a break from chairing the Government’s Cobra national emergency committee dealing with the flooding problems to write a birthday card for Marlborough’s Harry Beckhough who was 100 today

Actually Mr Beckhough who lives in Castle Court retirement apartments has two birthdays.

His father omitted to register him when he was born on February 8 in 1914 and didn’t get round to it until February 15 which is on his birth certificate.

The Queen also has two birthdays, her own and her official birthday, and she

sent the centenarian a telegram that arrived today, the 15th which Mr Beckhough regards as his official birthday.

The Devizes Constituency Conservative Association organised a party today for Mr Beckhough who is believed to be the country’s oldest Tory having joined when he was 15 and been a staunch party member since.

So it was not totally unexpected that a card arrived at the party held at the Conservative Club in Marlborough from the Prime Minister who had singled him out at the Tory conference in 2010 who then told him: “Without people like you we wouldn’t be here.”

Inside Mr Cameron’s birthday card with No 10 Downing Street on the front he said: “Dear Harry. Happy 100th birthday. This comes with my very best wishes for your celebration.”

Earlier this week there had been parties on three days for Mr Beckhough at the Jubilee Centre of which he is a member and he was having another with his family, his daughter Jennifer and her husband Sir James Munby, head of the High Court Family Division, who live in the Pewsey Vale. They were present at the Conservative club party with their daughter Charlotte.

Guests at the party included Devizes MP Claire Perry and two surprise guests.

One was Richard Notby who is head teacher of Cundall Manor School in North Yorkshire that Mr Beckhough founded in 1959 when he lived in Harrogate but could not find a school for gifted children for his own son and daughter to attend.

Mr Notby said: “Harry Beckhough has a habit of leaving a great legacy wherever he goes.

The second surprise was guest was the chairman of the Wakefield Shirt Company,  Ricky Donner, that Mr Beckhough helped found before the Second World War.

Wiltshire Council chairman Lionel Grundy who welcomed guests to the party referred to Mr Beckhough’s distinguished war service which included a spell as a code breaker at Bletchley Park as well as his service with the Royal Engineers that took him to India and Egypt.

As well as being the country’s oldest Tory, Mr Beckhough is believed to be possibly the oldest working person because every weekday he spends the morning helping with the administration at the constituency above the Conservative Club where the party was held.

As well as the Prime Minister’s card, MP Claire Perry took along with her messages of congratulation from Foreign Secretary William Hague and from former Devizes MP Michael Ancram.

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