Meet the 21-year-old grandad

By Jonathan BarnesTERRY Burke has had plenty of life experience before his 21st birthday.He has fought in a war, played on the winning side in a football cup final and got married - and then there are his five children, 10 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

By Jonathan Barnes

TERRY Burke has had plenty of life experience before his 21st birthday.

He has fought in a war, played on the winning side in a football cup final and got married - and then there are his five children, 10 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

Mr Burke was born on February 29, 1920, a leap year, and the true anniversary of his birth only comes around once every four years.

He will be 84 years old on his 21st birthday on Sunday, just a month after his grandson, David, celebrated his 21st.

“I can't remember what I did on my last birthday, but it was four years ago,” said Mr Burke, of Eyre Close, Bury St Edmunds.

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“I usually get cards on the 28th, although that isn't my real birthday. I don't usually do anything too hectic.

“It's funny that my grandson gets to his 21st birthday about the same time as me and he will be with me on my 21st to celebrate.”

Mr Burke's wife of 63 years, Peggy, said there were dozens of diary dates to remember in their family.

“There are birthdays in our family in every month apart from June, and Christmas is very busy too. Our calendar is full,” said Mrs Burke, 84.

“I make sure Terry doesn't miss out so we usually celebrate his birthday on the 28th, but it will be nice to celebrate his real birthday this year.”

Hewas a keen footballer in his youth, winning the Suffolk Primary Cup with Bury St Andrew in 1936. Mr Burke also served as a lance corporal in the Territorial Army during the Second World War.

Mr and Mrs Burke, who have lived in Bury St Edmunds all their married life, have four children, Gillian, 59, Derek, 52, Timothy, 50, and Raymond, 49. Their second eldest daughter, Pauline, died of cancer two years ago aged 54.

The great-grandfather said his interests included horseracing and coin collecting, but his family were most important to him.

“We're both very proud of our family. We love seeing them all. We've had a lot of fun over the years,” said Mr Burke.

“We used to have two sittings for Christmas dinner at our house because there were so many of us.”

Mr Burke's grandson, David, who lives in Ixworth, celebrated his 21st birthday on January 27, and will join the family celebrations on his return from training with the RAF.

jonathan.barnes@eadt.co.uk

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