Page last updated at 13:13 GMT, Friday, 22 May 2009 14:13 UK

UK's oldest man awarded doctorate

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Henry Allingham was given the Freedom of Brighton last month

The UK's oldest man and one of Britain's two surviving WWI veterans has received an honorary doctorate.

Henry Allingham, aged 112, was given a doctorate in engineering at Southampton Solent University.

The award was for his charity work and contributions during both world wars. Last month, he was made an honorary freeman of Brighton and Hove.

Mr Allingham moved to St Dunstan's care home for blind ex-service personnel in Ovingdean, near Brighton, in 2006.

The last surviving founder member of the RAF stayed in his Eastbourne home until the age of 110.

A statement from the university said: "For a man who said he felt woefully under-qualified during his career, as he had no formal engineering qualifications, finally being awarded a doctorate will be a special thrill."

The ceremony was organised at the Warsash Maritime Academy.

'Achieved so much'

When Mr Allingham was given the Freedom of Brighton, his long-time friend Dennis Goodwin said: "Henry is very modest about his achievements.

"A familiar phrase that he uses is, 'Why me?'.

"I tell him that he is famous and he has achieved so much at such a late time in his life, and that's what people love about him."

Mr Allingham, who now has his first great-great-great-grandchild, joined the Royal Navy Air Service in September 1915 before transferring to the RAF in April 1918.

In March, he was made an honorary member of the Royal Naval Association and also received an upgraded Legion d'Honneur in London, six years after receiving his first one.

He also became Britain's oldest man when he reached 112 years and 296 days, surpassing Welshman John Evans who died in 1990, aged 112 years and 295 days.

He will turn 113 on 6 June.



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