Gorleston’s allotment king, 97

HE might be nearly 100 years old, but a Gorleston great grandfather is putting in the spadework when it comes to keeping active.

When Walter Welton first started cultivating a vegetable patch more than half a century ago, it was out of necessity.

With a wife and three children to feed at a time when the quality, price and variety of food we see today was unthinkable, it was a case of grow your own – or go hungry.

But all these years on and the 97-year-old can still be found tending his vegetables at his Crab Lane allotment, where he is a familiar sight among fellow green-fingered enthusiasts.

And when he’s not there, Walter can be found tending to the flowers in his front garden, or riding on his mountain bike.

“I’m rather independent, and I think you might as well make the most of life if you can.

“I can’t sit around all day looking at TV. It would drive me mad.”

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When it comes to the 120ft-long allotment, to which he has dedicated four decades of his life growing everything from beetroot to beans, he can be found there any time of day, three to four times a week

“They all know me down there, and I guess I’m the daddy of them all,” he said.

“I’ve got a special spade which I’ve had for 30 years which makes life a lot easier. And I can still get down on to my knees alright when I have to – it just takes a bit longer getting back up again.”

This passion for keeping active is evident from time spent as a youngster with the Great Yarmouth Physical Culture Club, and from a 400-mile round trip he and some friends made from Yarmouth to Brighton and back – on bikes.

Nowadays, though he is old enough to remember the shooting down of a German airship in the first world war, he still likes to get out on his 18-gear cycle most days for a bit of shopping.

The former engineer makes sure he keeps on top of the cooking too, with his favourite dish being home-grown vegetables and braised steak, followed up with tinned fruit.

And, if it’s a Sunday, he may even enjoy a pint of Guinness.

And it’s only with a full belly that the proactive pensioner succumbs to the lure of a comfortable chair.

“I like doing everything I’m able to and I just want to keep active,” he said.

“But I like to sit down after I’ve had my lunch when I have a doze.”

For close family friend Bernie Archer, 50, the man who he affectionately calls “dad” is a true one-of-a-kind.

“He is an inspiration without a doubt, and every time I come across and see him he has another little story he tells me,” he said, adding “I’ve not met anyone like him.”

Do you know someone extraordinary? Let us know by emailing john.owens@archant.co.uk