WWII veteran David celebrates 100th birthday with family and friends

Wartime photo of David Stuart

Wartime photo of David Stuart - Credit: Chris Stuart

A WWII veteran who played a key part in preserving parts of Sidmouth from unwanted development in the 1980s has celebrated his 100th birthday. 

David Stuart marked his centenary year with lunch at the Victoria Hotel on Saturday, November 20, in the company of his wife Norma, their children and grandchildren, and friends. 

Mr Stuart was born in Ireland on November 20, 1921. During WWII he fought in the Western Desert campaign with the Royal Artillery in the Eighth Army under the command of Field Marshal Montgomery.   

He met his wife Norma after the war, when he was working as a customs officer in Nigeria. Norma was also living in Nigeria, where her family owned a hotel, and they got to know one another when he came to the hotel for a meal. The pair have now been married for 67 years.

David and Norma Stuart on their 60th wedding anniversary

David and Norma Stuart on their 60th wedding anniversary - Credit: Chris Stuart

In 1960 they left Nigeria and went to live in Glasgow, where Mr Stuart worked for the engineering company GKN and they brought up their children. They were there for 20 years, until he was offered early retirement because of a change in the company’s activities. 

Norma Stuart explained how they ended up living in Sidmouth. “We’d holidayed here, as so many people do. We’d been staying at the Westcliff several times, and David was getting early retirement, and I said, ‘well we’ve got a holiday at the Westcliff, why don’t we have a look for a house while we’re down there?’ And we came in 1981.” 

Mr Stuart became involved with the National Trust, and through them he heard that land at Peak Hill and Salcombe Hill was up for sale, potentially to developers.  

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Norma said: “He managed to find a lady in Sidmouth who lent the money to buy the land, she wanted it back in 12 months, and approached Sid Vale Association and said ‘how about joining us and getting this done between us,’ and they did. The National Trust invited the Duchess of Kent to come down and she came and we had lunch in Sidmouth – I think it was at the Victoria.” 

David and Norma Stuart in Sidmouth

David and Norma Stuart in Sidmouth - Credit: Chris Stuart

Norma described the 100th birthday lunch at the Victoria as ‘absolutely wonderful’ and told the Herald: “We’re very happy here in Sidmouth, we love it here.” 

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