A MAN who has lived in Hayes all of his life celebrated his 90th birthday with an autobiographical tour of the area.
Geoffrey Stevens, of Hithbroom Road, marked the occasion on November 8 with friends, fellow parishioners of the Hayes Town Chapel, and Hayes and Harlington MP John MacDonnell, who visited for the stroll down memory lane.
The 30-strong group started at the chapel and made their way to the Hawthorns, the private boys school Mr Stevens attended and where he was taught gilding and oil painting by none other than Eric Blair - now better known as George Orwell, the author of such classics as 1984 and Animal Farm.
Appropriately enough, therefore, the tour took the group to Barra Hall Park, which used to be the site of a pig farm, then on to Mr Stevens's old house, which was built by his father, in Freemans Lane.
After that, the group went through the Norman Leddy Memorial Gardens, which has a tree on the grounds planted by Mr Stevens in memory of his wife who died five years ago.
The day ended with a thanksgiving service and a meal at the chapel.
Mr Stevens, a keen walker and photographer, said he was thrilled with the turnout but said the idea had been thrust upon him.
He said: "One of my friends put the idea to me and before I knew it, everything had been arranged and details were published in the church notice sheet. My mind was made up for me!
"It was most unusual for me but it was a very pleasant and enjoyable day. Everybody who came seemed to really appreciate the tour, and were fascinated about the history of the area.
"I've lived here all of my life and have seen many changes in the area. It is sad to see that so many of the old buildings have disappeared."
Richard Stonelake, 71, of Belmont Road, Uxbridge, is a fellow parishioner and a good friend of Mr Stevens.
He said: "He told all kinds of personal stories that had everyone in stitches. He has lived in the area all of his life and he has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the area.
"The whole tour was done from memory and a few scribbles in his notebook. He is a good friend, absolutely unique, and this was a novel way to celebrate Geoffrey's birthday."