A century plus three for birthday boy Ken

103 Birthday, Wheatsheaf Care Home, Daventry.
103 Birthday, Wheatsheaf Care Home, Daventry.

In 1911 the Suffragettes stormed Parliament, chewing gum went on sale and the first British-made Ford car rolled off the production line.

But 103 years ago also marks the birth of Daventry’s Ken Harris who celebrated his birthday this week.

Ken, a resident of Wheatsheaf Court, Daventry, celebrated his 103rd birthday with cake, champagne and a concert.

Born in Wales and a keen trombonist from an early age, Ken played with the Salvation Army and was a semi-professional musician for much of his life. His day job was working as a turner in the aviation industry in the London area.

“When I was a lad I wanted to join the local brass band and the only vacancy they had was for a trombonist and that’s how it all started,” said Ken. “I wish I could still play the trombone now.”

In 1947, Ken was named Brass Band Champion of Great Britain. During his musical career he played with Billy Cotton and at many top venues including the London Palladium and Hammersmith Palais.

To mark his birthday, Sonja Young, activities co-ordinator at Wheatsheaf Court, arranged for Alan Griggs and Alan Brownjohn,two trombone-playing members of Daventry Brass Band, to perform for Ken and the other residents.

The duo, who also have links with the Salvation Army, played a number of Ken’s favourite tunes including Misty, Bread of Heaven and Pick Yourself Up.

Until a few months ago, Ken lived independently in his own home until ill health forced him to be closer to his only child, son Cliff, who lives at Lang Farm, Daventry.

Ken also has two grandchildren and one great-grandchild. His wife, Ivy, died aged 93.

Asked the obligatory question put to every centenarian as to the secret of a long and happy life, Ken replied: “Try to be good to everybody. I can’t give you any better advice than that.”