Bernard Lawes has never taken a day off sick.
In fact, Bernard says the last time he went to the doctors was in 1950, aged 18, to have a fitness test for the National Service.
And if there were two things Bernard would have to pick to explain his remarkable constitution it would be at least one hot meal a day and a good walk up the stairs.
According to Bernard, the key to good health really is as simple as that – although it may also have something to do with the fact he has never drank alcohol or smoked.
Not just any hot meal will do. The pensioner recommends “plain English food” such as chicken or beef.
He also puts his good health down to climbing 110 stairs three times a week in order to wind the clock at his local church.
Bernard says he has climbed the same steps each week for the past 44 years, accumulating a total of some 750,000 steps throughout his time as a volunteer.
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Before retiring aged 60, he used to walk four miles to and from work each day to stay in good physical condition.
While many people opt for more strenuous forms of exercise, simply walking each day has numerous health benefits from building stamina to improving heart health.
“Everything I have ever needed has always been in walking distance,” Bernard, who has never owned a car, explains.
“When I tell people I’ve not been to the doctor in 70 years, they can never quite believe it.
“There’s no real secret, I think staying active all these years is the main reason behind it and having at least one good hot meal a day is important.
“I’ve always walked everywhere. You’ve got to keep active and going to meet people as well – that’s what life is all about.
“My time with the church must have helped to keep me fit with all those steps.
“It was 110 steps up and down the tower to wind the clock as well as clambering up an iron ladder which was as tall as a house.
“I only did it to help out one time and ended up winding the clock for the next 44 years.”
According to the NHS, keeping active is the key to staying fit, mobile and independent if you are elderly.
“Regular exercise can help reduce the impact of several diseases, for example osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke,” it says. “Regular exercise can also reduce arthritisrelated pain, improve sleep, prevent falls and fractures, and improve low mood and memory.
“In fact, taking regular exercise is one of the best things you can do to remain independent.”
Taking care of eyes and feet – which have doubtless come under a fair bit of strain over the decades – is also recommended.
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Bernard retired to care for his wife, Veronica, who died from kidney failure in 2014.
“I’ve lost most of my family members now but there’s no point moping around and feeling sorry for yourself – you have to get up and go out,” he said.
“We didn’t have any children so it’s important that I keep friends around me. Lockdown was tough, it was for everyone, but now I can get back into town.
“I walk down there then walk back, you meet people then, that’s what does it, meeting people.
“Over the years, I’ve played sports like football, bowls and cricket – I still enjoy a spot of gardening too. My garden is 80 yards long so there’s plenty to do.
“It’s just about getting out and about. If you just sit about doing nothing – that’s the worse possible thing you can do.”