SPRIGHTLY Fred Marrison received a 100th birthday card from the Queen yesterday - but it was another delivery of congratulations which made his big day extra special.
The lifelong Arsenal fan, who moved to Hartlepool from London after the Second World War, was shocked to receive a birthday letter from the Gunners manager Arsene Wenger.
And although his team couldn’t give him an early birthday present by knocking holders Bayern Munich out of the Champions League on Tuesday night, Fred was still delighted with his delivery in the post.
“I’ve always supported Arsenal, I couldn’t believe it when I opened the letter and saw who it was from, it’s very nice of the club,” said Fred.
The dad-of-two, granddad-of-five and great granddad-of-10 has always been a huge sports fan, both playing and watching, and says it’s his active lifestyle which has helped him to reach the milestone age.
A keen swimmer and footballer in his younger days, Fred also loved a game of bowls and is still a regular at Hartlepool Indoor Bowls Club, although he stopped playing when he was 93.
Fred was born in Catford, south-east London, in 1914 and worked in Harrods as a young man and remembers once serving the Queen Mother.
He served as a seaman in the Royal Navy during the Second World War and it was then when he met his wife-to-be, Alwyn Ridsdale, who was from Hartlepool but sadly died in 2011, aged 85.
Alwyn’s family owned Find It Out tobacconists, and Fred headed north to manage one of the shops in the town in 1947 - and soon fell in love with Hartlepool.
“I loved everything about Hartlepool when I came here,” said Fred.
“The people, the place, everything.”
Proudly showing off his Arsenal memorabilia at his home, Fred added: “I have always been into sport.
“I used to swim, play water polo, football, bowls.
“And I love watching sport as well, I can sit and watch it all day.”
Fred, a dad of Valerie Thompson, 65, and Keith Marrison, 61, has had a packed week to celebrate his big day.
He spent his birthday with Valerie and Keith yesterday and is looking forward to seeing his close friends at his local, the West Hartlepool Victory Social Club, tomorrow night, before a party with all of his family to celebrate the special occasion on Saturday night.
“I’m looking forward to Saturday, it will be really nice to celebrate with all of my family together,” added Fred.
l Mail view: Page 8