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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 June 2006, 06:23 GMT 07:23 UK
Honours for Britain's oldest man
Chancellor Gordon Brown and Henry Allingham
The chancellor gave Mr Allingham a bottle of House of Commons whisky
Britain's oldest surviving war veteran has celebrated his 110th birthday at the Grand Hotel in Eastbourne.

Henry Allingham was presented with a letter of good wishes from the Queen by Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown at the five-star seafront hotel.

Mr Allingham is the last remaining RAF founder member and the only remaining survivor of the Battle of Jutland.

In the past he has put the key to his old age down to "cigarettes, whisky and wild, wild women".

He joined the Royal Naval Air Service in September 1915, transferring to the RAF in 1918.

His military honours include the British War Medal, Victory Medal and the Legion D'Honneur - France's highest military accolade.

The party in East Sussex included Veterans' Minister Tom Watson and about 15 members of Mr Allingham's family.

He wore a navy blue suit and his military medals.

You are a very modest man and you deserve it
Gordon Brown

Asked how he had survived to such a grand age, Mr Allingham said he had "just lived day to day".

"I just have a good day and never think about what tomorrow will bring," he added.

In her letter to Mr Allingham, the Queen sent "warm congratulations" and said she hoped the day would be "happy and memorable".

The veteran has recently moved from his home in Eastbourne to St Dunstan's care home for ex-servicemen and women in Ovingdean, near Brighton.

As the celebrations got under way, Mr Allingham said he was profoundly honoured to receive the congratulations which included a letter from Chief of Defence Staff, Sir Jock Stirrup.

And he told Mr Brown: "Thank you for coming to see me."

The chancellor told Mr Allingham that British people were immensely grateful for his service to the nation during World War I.

Mr Brown said: "You are a very modest man and you deserve it."

Veterans Day

Mr Allingham's birthday present from the chancellor was a bottle of House of Commons whisky and a copy of the budget statement delivered in the year he was born, 1896.

As the gifts were handed over, Mr Brown joked: "I think the tax on whisky was a bit lower then."

At the celebrations, Mr Brown revealed events scheduled for the first national Veterans Day on 27 June this year.

The battle of Jutland, picture from a British destroyer
Mr Allingham is the last British survivor of the Battle of Jutland

Plans for the new annual day, to ensure the sacrifices of the Armed Forces were never forgotten, were announced in February.

Events this year include a royal visit to the Royal Hospital in London, a visit by Mr Brown to the Imperial War Museum, archives being established in schools, a parade in Staffordshire and a service at Westminster Abbey.

Mr Brown said: "We must never forget the debt we owe to Henry and the millions of other British servicemen and women who have risked their lives in the defence of our country."

Mr Allingham has five grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.

In March, he was given the freedom of Eastbourne, where he had lived since the 1960s.

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06 Jun 05 |  Southern Counties

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