BRICKLAYING, betting and beer are the secrets to a long and unworried life according to Jack Carter who's just celebrated his 99th year.

"That and being in the right place at the right time," said Jack, from Lydney. "I've basically got a happy go lucky nature – I certainly didn't get grey haired through worry."

Born in 1910, a month after Mother Teresa and just before the Titanic sank, Jack grew up in Great Bookham, Surrey. His father worked at the Vickers aircraft works, where the Spitfire was built.

Trained as a bricklayer – "the only thing I ever wanted to do from the age of 12" – he work­ed as a specialist at The Mirror Group and Odhams Press, owners of The Sporting Life.

"There were miles of earthenware pipes which used to hang about 15 inches from the ceiling, full of acid used for developing the photos. If they went wrong, we fixed them."

Called up during World War Two, Jack was shipped out to North Africa to form part of the 1st Army invasion force which landed near Algiers in 1942. After seeing heavy fighting around Tunisia, the 1st Army was disbanded after a quarter of million Africa Corps and Italians surrendered.

"Then they shipped us back to Algiers, out to America, back to Liverpool and over to France. It was like being on a Cooks Tour."

Following in the wake of the D-Day invasion, Jack ended up on the Rhine, before returning to London.

"I was about to be flown out to Burma when an officer said: 'You can go to Burma or go back to work in London'. Well I'd not long been married, so decided to stay."

Jack met his sweetheart, Sally, mid-war and married within seven weeks.

"I couldn't have afforded a wedding suit before the war."

Settling in Bookham, Jack outlived his first wife before remarrying in 1969 and outliving his second wife. He moved to Lydney from the Isle of Wight about 14 years ago to be near his daughter, Sue, who lives in Coleford.

"I couldn't wish to be in a better place at my time of life. I'm not local, but I think they're getting used to me now. And the people here have been great. I get picked up every morning and taken back every evening. I'd just like to say big thank you to them. It's not only the beer, but the people drinking with you that matter."