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The secret to a long life? Walking a mile a day and no alcohol!

Last weekend, Great Escaper Jack Lyon celebrated his 100th birthday surrounded by friends and family. Jack was a prisoner of war in Stalag Luft III, the scene of one of the most audacious prison escapes in World War Two history, when 200 prisoners attempted to escape the prison confines via a man-made tunnel.

Jack Lyon

Jack Lyon was born on 2 September 1917, King George V was on the throne and the Royal Air Force was yet to be formed.

He joined the RAF aged 23 and not long after, when his aircraft crash landed after being hit by flack over Dusseldorf, he was taken prisoner in Dulag Luft.

In September 1941 he was taken to the North Compound of Stalag Luft III, where he became a 'stooge', or look out, for German soldiers as the highly complex plan for the escape of 200 prisoners was executed.

"The most difficult thing was not nodding off at night," Jack recalls, "It's a long and boring thing, looking at nothing!"

Of course, as history tells us, the plan was thwarted and of the 76 men who escaped through the tunnel, only three made it home and 50 were shot by the Germans in reprisal.

After four years as a prisoner of war, Jack, who was also part of the 'Long March', returned to London on 9 May 1945, and went back to his job with Shell, where he'd been a junior accountant.

"Have I led an extraordinary life?" he asks. "I guess so but we were young men doing our job. I didn’t see that we were doing anything extraordinary."

Jack celebrated his 100th milestone with friends and family, some of whom had flown over from France and Italy.

His tip for a long and healthy life?

"I try and walk a mile a day," he says. "I think walking is the finest all round exercise you can do. I've also never really drank alcohol."

And his best birthday present?

He smiles. "My card from Her Majesty. That was pretty special."

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