'The lucky one' celebrating his 100th birthday in Taunton
A TAUNTON man who calls himself "the lucky one" is looking forward to celebrating his 100th birthday next week.
Douglas Waite beat all the odds to survive the Second World War and two major health scares on the way to his landmark big day on Wednesday (March 29).
Douglas, who lives independently in his own house in Eastgate Gardens, joined the Royal Air Force at the age of 17 and nine months in 1941.
"I was 16 when war was declared," said Douglas, who was born in Hammersmith.
"I joined up at 17 and three quarters and flew Mosquitos for four and a half years.
"I was the lucky one as 50,000 airmen lost their lives and 125,000 were maimed, burnt or disfigured.
"I'm just one of the lucky ones who survived."
After the war, he took a job selling Jaguar cars.
He moved to Somerset 30 years ago, initially living in Catcott, on the Somerset Levels near Bridgwater.
Douglas had a triple heart bypass in 1997 before moving to Taunton five years later.
"I was told I had kidney cancer in 2002, so moved here. I had a kidney removed the following year."
He puts his longevity down to clean living and keeping as fit as possible.
"I don't drink or smoke," said Douglas. "I did used to smoke until the Government put up the tax on a packet of Woodbines.
"I have physio once a week to do my exercises.
"My mother lived to the age of 96, so it must be in my genes.
"These days I've got arthritis, so I don't get out as much as I'd like.
"I get taken out in my wheelchair when the weather's fine."
He has survived his wife and son, but has a grandson and great grandson, who lives in Switzerland.
"They're coming to my birthday party on Wednesday, when there will be about 50 people," added Douglas.