Work hard, play hard is Tommy’s ethos

Tommy Hayes who celebrated his 100th birthday  on Thursday, October 16. EMN-141014-123646001

Tommy Hayes who celebrated his 100th birthday on Thursday, October 16. EMN-141014-123646001

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Work hard and play hard has always been Tommy Hayes’ ethos in life.

And it has helped him live to the age of 100, despite being partial to a weekly pint of Guinness and “smoking like a chimney” in the past.

The former lorry driver and chimney sweep from Orchard Road, Stamford, had his milestone birthday yesterday, which was marked with a surprise party.

It was laid on by his family at his local public house the Hurdler.

Relatives from America, Australia and Ireland joined Mr Hayes’ four children, 11 grandchildren, two great grandchildren and friends for the party.

Prior to the party he was taken on his weekly trip to Coral, the bookies in Stamford that he has visited regularly for several decades, and where staff greeted him with a birthday cake and a card - also a surprise.

“I go there for something to do, it’s not to make money,” Mr Hayes said.

Born in Waterford, Ireland, Mr Hayes came to the UK in his 20s. He worked as a lorry driver transporting material for building an airfield in Swindon, then came to live in Stamford and worked to build the North Luffenham airfield near Cottesmore.

He later bought his own lorry and used it to move bricks from Peterborough to Leicester.

When he gave up lorry driving he became a chimney sweep in the Stamford area, then a shopkeeper at the town’s Spar, then a chimney sweep again with his son Chris, working well into his late 80s.

“I’ve always been active, never idle,” said Mr Hayes. “And I take every day as it comes.

“Considering the life I’ve lived I shouldn’t have made it beyond 60. I drank and I smoked like a chimney. But I worked hard.”

His long life, he said, was also down to the genes he inherited from his family who have all lived a long life.

Mr Hayes, who has been widowed twice, when Irene, then Joan, died, has four children Janet, 70, John 66, Richard, 64 and Chris, 57.

Asked what he wished for a birthday present he said: “I don’t wish for anything that I haven’t got. I have a marvellous family. I have had a good and happy life.”

His son Chris said the family looked up to him and were “very proud of him”.