Fine wine is key to long and happy life, says veteran marking 102nd birthday

Fine wine and good food are the secret to a long life, according to a Second World War pilot who celebrated his 102nd birthday this week.

Harry Gamper was born in 1920 and celebrated his milestone on Tuesday at Malin Court Care Home in Maidens, South Ayrshire.

He had been unable to mark his 100th birthday properly in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic.

The centenarian was an RAF pilot during the war and was present at the D-Day landings – an experience he has described as “incredible”.

Harry Gamper in 1946. Picture: Renaissance Care/SWNS

“I’ll never forget it,” Mr Gamper said.

“For a whole week before D-Day, nobody was allowed off the aerodrome. So, something big was going to happen.

“The Channel was extraordinary. I think you could have almost walked across the Channel because every boat was going across it.”

He was awarded medals for his service in France and Germany, including for his role in the Battle of the Atlantic, and Mr Gamper clocked up 1,000 hours of flying in the RAF.

A D-Day pilot celebrated turning 102 - and attributes his longevity to a love of fine wine. Harry Gamper turned 102 on July 20. Picture: Renaissance Care/SWNS

After his service, he married and had two sons – David and Andrew.

Mr Gamper worked in advertising and retired to Dorset with his wife in 1983.

He later moved to a cottage in the village of Straiton, Ayrshire, in the late 2000s, where he took up gardening and enjoyed the proximity to the coast.

With the family unable to mark his centenary together in 2020, his son flew in from Canada for his birthday this year, and his nephew travelled from Cornwall.

Harry Gamper (second from right) with friends and family on his 102nd birthday. Picture: Renaissance Care/SWNS

Staff and fellow residents at the home pulled out the stops to celebrate.

Mr Gamper was the guest of honour at an Italian-themed lunch – in memory of his late wife, Annalisa, who he enjoyed sun-soaked holidays in Italy with.

He also enjoyed a garden party with cocktails, nibbles and live entertainment.

Mr Gamper said: “Life is beautiful and I’ve always lived it to the full.

“I love art, music, good food and the finest wine – all of these things, and the people around you, are what matter most in life.

"I looked forward to my Italian feast and maybe a sing-a-long to some traditional Italian music."

Mr Gamper added: “The staff at Renaissance Care Malin Court leave no stone unturned, especially when it comes to a party.”


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