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It’s a family affair as former manager of Newmarket Town Ken Abbs celebrates his 100th birthday





A card from the King and Queen was a treat for Ken Abbs on his 100th birthday but it was a certificate from his four great-grandchildren marking his ‘outstanding contribution to the world’ that made the day really special.

The youngsters – Stanley, 10, Ernie, nine, Maggie, six and five-year-old Alfie – made a one-off version of certificates awarded to fellow pupils at St Louis Catholic Academy in Newmarket to mark outstanding achievements and presented it to Ken at his birthday party.

Ken now lives at Ness Court, in Burwell, where other residents joined the Abbs family for a celebration on Sunday with another party at the home to mark his 100th birthday the next day.

Ken Abbs celebrates his 100th birthday with members of his family which, since this photograph was taken, has increased by one with the birth of another great granddaughter Phoebe Winifred, her second name remembering her late great grandmother
Ken Abbs celebrates his 100th birthday with members of his family which, since this photograph was taken, has increased by one with the birth of another great granddaughter Phoebe Winifred, her second name remembering her late great grandmother

Ken was born in Histon and was brought up by his grandma and aunt after both his parents died when he was very young.

After leaving school, he worked as an electrician until he joined the RAF during the Second World War and flew as a wireless operator in Wellington bombers and later Lancasters out of RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.

After the war, Ken continued to work as an electrician at Marshalls, and then at the furniture shop John Blundells’ branches in Cambridge and King’s Lynn before moving back to Cambridge until his retirement.

Four of Ken's great grandchildren with the certificate they made to mark his 100th birthday
Four of Ken's great grandchildren with the certificate they made to mark his 100th birthday

In 1948 he had married Winifred, who he met at a wartime dance at The Dorothy dance hall in Cambridge, at the city’s Register Office.

Their children David and Jani were born in 1953 and 1956 but sadly Jani died in January 2022 and Winifred’s death followed in December of the same year, ending a marriage which had lasted 74 years.

Throughout his life, Ken has had a passion for football and has always supported West Ham. His love for the game rubbed off on Dave who played for clubs in King’s Lynn, Cambridge and Histon before turning to management and coaching, including a spell as manager of Newmarket Town.

Ken avidly followed the footballing careers of grandsons Mark and Joey, who both played to a high local level, watching their matches alongside Dave and keeping scrapbooks of their achievements.

But, according to Ken himself, it could all have been so different.

He tells the story that when he was a young man working as an electrician he suffered a powerful electric shock but, because he was known to be a bit of a prankster, his workmates thought he was faking and it took some time before someone realised it was no joke and tragedy was averted when he turned off the power.