Luton Town fan Len turns 100

Len on his 100th birthday (left) and in his younger days, enjoying a pint and wearing a straw hat (right).
Len on his 100th birthday (left) and in his younger days, enjoying a pint and wearing a straw hat (right).

A lifelong Hatters fan was proud to celebrate his 100th birthday surrounded by family and Luton Town memorabilia!

Len Bushby marked his centennial year on July 31 by having a special lunch with his son and daughter followed by a party at Taymer Nursing Home, Silsoe.

Len with his son Gerald Bushby, who lives near Oxford, granddaughter, Emily Bushby, who lives near Reading, and daughter Kathleen, who lives in Northampton..

Len with his son Gerald Bushby, who lives near Oxford, granddaughter, Emily Bushby, who lives near Reading, and daughter Kathleen, who lives in Northampton..

Popular Len also had another party on August 3, enjoying a second cake.

His daughter, Kathleen Flower, 72, remembers his celebrations: “Earlier in the day he had opened his card from the Queen and had been served orange juice and Prosecco by the staff.

“I gave him a family tree so that he could see ancestors and his descendants, but his prized gift was two programmes of Luton playing at Wembley. His granddaughter’s fiance, also a football supporter - but Arsenal - gave them to him.”

Len was born in Clophill in 1919 having two older brothers and one sister. His father was an agricultural worker and so they were not rich.

Len with his birthday card from the Queen.

Len with his birthday card from the Queen.

Len went to Clophill school until he was 14 (the leaving age then). His sister worked in a hat factory in Luton and found him a job packing hats.

He would cycle to Luton and back each day.

Kathleen said: “Unfortunately, whilst larking about on his bike, he rode on the wrong side of the road and was tossed over a lorry, ending up in Bedford Hospital with a serious knee injury that has been with him all his life.”

After recovering, undaunted, Len again cycled to work, catching the bus occasionally.

Len's great grandchildren wish him Happy Birthday via Skype.

Len's great grandchildren wish him Happy Birthday via Skype.

He later found a training job in an engineering firm. As a toolmaker he eventually worked for Commer Cars for over 25 years.

He met his future Irish wife, Barbara Ball, at the Flying Horse, Clophill, where she helped out behind the bar.

Kathleen said: “They married in the Catholic church in Ampthill but were both kept waiting for several hours at the altar as the priest didn’t turn up.

Eventually, Len’s brother drove to Shefford and found a replacement. This made the national newspapers!”

Len's first 100th birthday cake that was made for him.

Len's first 100th birthday cake that was made for him.

Len has been a lifelong Luton Town supporter. He first went to matches at the age of 15. He follows the team for both home and away matches and often held a season ticket.

He went to Wembley to support the team when they played Nottingham Forest. “They were leading” he said, “But, unfortunately, they let in a goal late in the match.”

Kathleen added: “His wife always said that the first television they bought was so he could watch Luton Town! He is hopeful that they will now get a new stadium and go onto greater things. Unfortunately, he is now no longer able to get to the ground.”

Len has always been a gardener, growing his own vegetables. Indeed, until about three years ago he was still digging, and growing potatoes and runner beans, sharing the extras with his neighbours. When he retired he was able to take up painting, joining a group in Barton.

His mother was featured in the Luton News when she was 100, and his sister also lived to over 100 – so a long lived family. He has always exercised; cycling, digging, sawing wood for his fire or walking.

He celebrated his birthday with his son, daughter, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. A happy day!

Len's second birthday cake depicting his love of gardening.

Len's second birthday cake depicting his love of gardening.