Completing a plumbing apprenticeship for the second time was one of the many challenges faced by Leonard Sheppard, who celebrated his 100th birthday last week.
It is perhaps that attribute of persistence, along with enjoyment of a quiet drink every now and then, that may have helped Leonard to that milestone.
Leonard was born on June 12, 1917 in Marlow, Buckinghamshire in the United Kingdom. The fourth child in a family of six, Leonard is the only one in his family to have reached the 100-year milestone.
With the family no longer able to afford schooling, Leonard was forced into work at 13 years of age, undertaking a plumbing apprenticeship. While it cost 100 pounds to put through an apprenticeship, a man’s legacy to help young boys learn a trade gave Leonard and his brother that opportunity.
Leonard quickly became multi-skilled, working in building, painting, plastering and carpentry when plumbing was quiet.
In 1937, Leonard joined the territorial army and in 1939, he was sent to Northern Ireland as a dispatch rider. His skills were quickly learnt, and he was seconded as an armour officer to fix guns.
Stationed near Devon in the United Kingdom, Leonard met and married his wife Mary.