A LLANBERIS man who has celebrated a very special birthday with his family.
Samuel Francis Snell, known as Frank, marked his 100th birthday with a party at the Seiont Mill Cafe in Rhosbodrual, near Caernarfon.
Before the party Frank’s son Robin, aged 65, said his father, was delighted to receive telegrams from the Queen, First Minister Carwyn Jones and Welsh Secretary David Jones.
He said: “He’s quite chipper about it. I don’t think it’s really sunk in. My father’s upbringing was very hard, as a result of which he’s never been one to show his emotions very much.”
However, the celebrations were tinged with sadness Frank as Hilda, his beloved wife of 72 years, died last year.
Early life was tough for Frank, who was born Portsmouth on May 2 1914.
His father died aboard the HMS Hampshire in June 1916, when the ship struck a mine while escorting Lord Kitchener to meet the Tsar of Russia.
His mother was denied a widow’s pension until 1937, due to the Government insisting his father had jumped ship.
However, Robin said: “If you read the history of HMS Hampshire, there was a force eight gale and the ship was five miles off shore in a storm that was so bad that the escorting destroyers had to put back into port.
“The cruiser itself was considering doing the same when she hit a mine and went down, so no sane man was going to jump ship.”
Frank, who came to Wales in the 1990s, spent much of his early years with relatives as his mother had to work to support them.
Frank and Hilda, who met in 1931, led an active lifestyle, and were both keen cyclists who shared a love of cinema and musical theatre.
He said: “They’d jump on their tandem and cycle up from London to Portsmouth , take in a West End matinee and cycle back again.”
Another important part of to Frank’s long life has been hard work.
During the Second World War Frank, who initially trained as a carpenter, became a photographer for the war effort and retired as principal photographer the Ministry of Defence’s Naval Department in 1974.
Robin said: “He continued to work in various jobs until he was about 74, and he’s always worked very hard on the basis he started with nothing and wanted to leave my sister Angela and I something.”