A FORMER RAF nurse during the Second World War has celebrated her 101st birthday at her West Dorset care home - and says a good childhood and healthy meals are the key to her longevity.

Joan Cool celebrated her birthday with lunch at Fairfield House, Lyme Regis. Her son Michael travelled down from Rugby to celebrate with her on Friday, October 23.

Mrs Cool was born in Huddersfield in 1919. She has two children, five grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

In 1943, in the midst of the war, Mrs Cool joined the Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service at RAF Halton and reached the rank of flying officer. She was later posted to the RAF Hospital at Wroughton, Swindon which was a casualty clearing station for D-Day.

She said: “I marched in the first Battle of Britain parade, I think there were about eight sisters , but we had never done any drilling and we marched past the King on the saluting base at Buckingham Palace.

“We used to take in casualties every other night so we could deal with things that needed doing, then they would be passed on to a hospital , probably nearer to their hometown. It was sad in a way because they were the youth of our generation. It was such a waste.”

After the war, Mrs Cool took a job as an industrial nurse at a hat manufacturer, where she met her husband John. He was the buyer, and had returned from the war and worked his way up from office boy to head buyer. They later married in January 1948.

Mrs Cool added: “I was setting the First Aid room up, there was nothing there and I got a couch, and I made an order form out and somebody said, “that has to go through Mr Cool”, so that’s how we met.

“I spent a year-and-a-half there and then the NHS came in so they didn’t need a trained nurse, but I wasn’t bothered because I got married."

Mrs Cool was presented with a 'pilot' teddy bear by Bridport and Lyme Regis members of the Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA), she named the bear Rupert, after a squadron leader she met in the RAF Abbey Lodge in London.

When asked about her longevity, she said:”I had a good start in childhood and when I was training, we always had good meals and I looked after myself. If I had anything wrong, I wouldn’t wait until it got me, I went straight away to the doctor. I had two great-aunts, one lived until 102 and the other lived until she was 110.”