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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 April 2007, 07:07 GMT 08:07 UK
Centenarian celebrates with 25k
Alec Holden
Alec Holden said his secret to long life was to "keep breathing"
A man who bet 100 a decade ago that he would live to be 100 is celebrating his birthday with a cheque for 25,000.

Alec Holden, from Epsom in Surrey, is picking up his winnings from bookmaker William Hill, which gave him odds of 250/1 that he would reach his century.

The retired engineer, born on 24 April 1907, joked he had been "very careful" about what he had been doing recently.

Mr Holden, who also used to work as a teacher and a carpenter, plans to take some friends to a hotel to celebrate.

These age wagers are starting to cost us a fortune and from now on we are going to push out the age to 110
Rupert Adams, William Hill

He placed the bet on 10 December 1997, when he was aged 90, with the thought that he "would live forever".

Mr Holden, who has two sons aged 70 and 60, puts his longevity down to porridge for breakfast and "remembering to keep breathing".

He said it was also important not to worry about anything, do as little work as possible, and go on lots of holidays.

He also plays chess every day, running a local club.

He said in recent months he had been keeping watch for "any hooded groups from William Hill standing in the street", so that he could avoid them.

He also said he had already received his birthday card from the Queen.

'Mythical landmark'

"In fact, I think I saw her delivering it on her bicycle," he joked.

Bookmakers William Hill said they had now raised the target age for bets from 100 to 110.

Spokesman Rupert Adams explained: "When we started taking these bets, 100 years old seemed to be an almost mythical landmark and we were prepared to offer massive odds.

"But these age wagers are starting to cost us a fortune and from now on we are going to push out the age to 110."

However, he added: "I am sure that Alec will get more pleasure from our letter than he will from the Queen's."

The bookmaker has now paid out three times on the same type of bet.

The two others were Rosalyn Strover, from Suffolk, in November 2004, and Arthur Best, from Cheltenham, in January 2005.

The secret of living to 100 years old

100th birthday wins 12,500 bet
04 Nov 04 |  Suffolk
Mother wins 1,000 baby bet
09 Jun 02 |  England

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