Family throws surprise 90th birthday bash for great grandad

Len Coleman and family SUS-141108-113050001
Len Coleman and family SUS-141108-113050001

A great-grandfather who volunteered for the Reds for 39 years was surprised by more than 40 of his family members at his 90th birthday party.

Leonard Coleman celebrated at his daughter Lisa’s home in Honeysuckle Lane, Langley Green, on August 2.

He said: “It was brilliant, I couldn’t have expected anything better.

“I was up at night and kept thinking about it.

“I would like to very much to say a very big thank you to all you lovely people who organised and made this a beautiful day for me.”

Lisa led Leonard, of St Joan Close, Langley Green, into her back garden where his family was waiting for him.

He was joined by his three sisters, in their 90s, who travelled from Worthing and his brother, of Tilgate, in his 80s, for his birthday.

Leonard, originally from London, moved to Crawley in 1954.

He worked as a fitter for Smithkline Beecham, a pharmaceutical company, in Manor Royal, for 27 years and retired aged 65.

He volunteered for Crawley Town Football Club for 39 years until two years ago.

He worked helping disabled people for charity Outreach from the age of 62 to 72.

All but five of his relatives live in Crawley and Horley.

He said: “It’s amazing - they all like it in Crawley.

“They always keep close together, cuddle each other and talk.”

His wife Doreen, 82, used her father’s will to donate a grand piano to St Catherine’s Hospice.

Leonard used to run 45 miles per week in his 60s and ran the London Marathon in around five hours aged 64.

He ran 20 half-marathons for charity including St Catherine’s Hospice and Outreach before that.

He was inspired by an “old chap” running in the fields between the town and Gatwick.

Leonard had taught his youngest descendants to line dance and dressed as Santa Clause for them at Christmas.

His granddaughter Amy is due to have a baby in a couple of months.

Leonard, who still drives, said his secret to a long life was keeping fit and avoiding tobacco and alcohol.