There’s no need to slow down at 90, says MBE

A MAN who has led a jam-packed life so far celebrated his 90th birthday last Thursday and shows no signs of slowing. Laurie Cook, of Hillshott in Letchworth GC, moved to the town in 1956 and has lived in the same house ever since. Mr Cook is known through

A MAN who has led a jam-packed life so far celebrated his 90th birthday last Thursday and shows no signs of slowing.

Laurie Cook, of Hillshott in Letchworth GC, moved to the town in 1956 and has lived in the same house ever since.

Mr Cook is known throughout the town, not least for the amount of charity work he has done over the years, for which he received an MBE five years ago.

He started raising money for charities about 50 years ago and, as a keen gardener, held a fundraising plant sale every year. He said: "I don't hold the sales any more but I'm a keen gardener and if someone wants something I may have it."


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Mr Cook said he was "a bit flabbergasted" when he heard he had been awarded an MBE for his charity work.

Charities benefiting from Mr Cook's fundraising over the years include the Ernest Gardiner Day Hospital, on Pixmore Avenue in Letchworth GC, the Royal Naval Association, and guides and scouts associations.

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A 90th birthday party was held for Mr Cook at Howard Garden Social and Day Care Centre, on Norton Way South, on Saturday. The venue was packed with family, friends and well-wishers and he received lots of lovely gifts including plants, books, puzzles and brandy. "As a result of that party I've got an awful lot of work to do," he joked.

Mr Cook joined the Royal Navy on January 2, 1934. There were 72 people in his intake but, by the time they finished their apprenticeship, there were only 53. People had left due to ill health or their services not being required.

He said: "At this moment in time there are only five of us left.''

Speaking about one of his favourite wartime anecdotes, Mr Cook said: "I was on a destroyer and we delivered an attack. The officer in charge looked at the torpedo tubes and there was a scored mark from shrapnel. He said 'Well I never, they've scratched my paintwork.'"

When he moved to Letchworth GC, Mr Cook worked as an engineer at the British Tabulating Machine Company, which later became International Computers Limited, on Icknield Way in the town. The factory was eventually demolished to make way for a housing development.

Mr Cook is currently the events co-ordinator for the Letchworth District Gardeners' Association, chairman of the Letchworth and Hitchin branch of the Royal Naval Association, and is on the district executive committee for the district guides and scouts. In addition to all these activities, when he gets a free moment, Mr Cook even bakes his own bread! To fit everything into his busy schedule, he said he goes to bed late and gets up early.

Revealing his secret to life, Mr Cook said: "You keep smiling and you keep plodding on. In fact you don't plod, you go! Unless you find an interest, you can sit in a chair and wither away and a lot of people do that. There's no need to slow down. You just have to keep going at a steady old pace."

* The Royal Naval Association is looking for new members. For more information, or to join, call 01462 486 168. Meetings are held every second Monday of the month.

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