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100-year-old Percy is still in tune

PUBLISHED: 08:22 13 December 2009 | UPDATED: 11:31 08 July 2010

WHEN he moved into a care home two years ago, Percy Garrod gave away all his cherished wood working tools, thinking it would be an end to a much loved hobby.

WHEN he moved into a care home two years ago, Percy Garrod gave away all his cherished wood working tools, thinking it would be an end to a much loved hobby.

Despite this, the former Norwich cabinet maker, who last month celebrated his 100th birthday, still managed to build himself a banjo from scratch.

And now, to mark his centenary, the Robert Kett Court resident in Wymondham has been given a brand new set of chisels to continue making musical instruments.

Born in 1909 in Hilborough, near Swaffham, Mr Garrod has read the EDP every day for 80 years - except on May 5, 1926, when the general strike meant no edition was printed.

“There are three things you should like in this world; people, places and things,” said Mr Garrod.

He wrote for the EDP from 1947 to 1974 as a village correspondent and served as a parish councillor.

His first job after leaving school was an apprenticeship with a tailor, but he was knocked down by a lorry on his bike before arriving at the shop.

After a spell in hospital he embarked on a career in Norwich as a cabinet maker, which lasted for 17 years.

Another period of illness forced him to take lighter duties, but he continued to work with wood and in the next six years made a staggering 6,000 dining chairs by hand.

Mr Garrod then spent 21 years teaching these expert woodworking skills to others around the county and eventually left to go into business restoring musical instruments.

Beside his varied career he has found time for a huge range of hobbies and interests, which he says is key to a long life, including learning the guitar, banjo and violin, playing cricket, bee-keeping and painting.

“One of my favourite things is to go out with a couple of pals and look through a hedge and do a landscape, then have a picnic,” he said.

“There's nothing I like doing more than that.”

And he was also a pioneer of the green movement, constructing a wind turbine to supply power to his home in the 1950s, milling his own flour and collecting rainwater to drink - a habit he keeps up to this day.

Although his wife Gladys passed away four years ago, Mr Garrod still has a large family who regularly visit him.

He celebrated his birthday at a party attended by his daughters Elizabeth Smith, 60, and Susan Evans, 63.

His three grandsons, granddaughter, great-granddaughter and great-grandson were also there on Mr Garrod's milestone birthday.

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