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Celebrating an incredible life, Richard Tyler turns 100

Richard Tyler (and his family) celebrated his 100th birthday ANL-161128-082320009
Richard Tyler (and his family) celebrated his 100th birthday ANL-161128-082320009

A former Second World War tank commander this week celebrated his 100th birthday with his family by his side and a card from the Queen.

Married to Dorothy Tyler, the celebrated British Olympian who died in 2014, Richard Tyler had been a keen sportsman himself until an eye infection left him without sight in one eye.

He later took up golf and was both captain and president of his club in Surrey, before moving to Long Melford three years ago years ago to be closer to his son Barry.

On Saturday his two sons joined him at Melford Court Nursing Home for the celebrations, alongside two grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

He was also visited by past and present members of staff and his fellow residents.

Although he slept through much of it he was pleased to receive a card from the Queen.

Mr Tyler was born in Singapore before being educated in England. He joined the territorial reserve after finishing school and went to Sandhurst Royal Military Academy, joining the 8th Royal Tank Regiment, where he was a Captain.

He married Dorothy in 1940, who by then was already an accomplished athlete.

During the Second World War he served in North Africa, before fighting the Japanese in Burma and later in Italy and Austria, before finally rejoining his wife.

“When he went off he didn’t see her for four and a half years as he never had any leave’”, said his son Barry.

Barry was born in 1947, a year after brother David.

After the war, as well as working as an insurance agent he also accompanied his wife on her sporting ventures, both as an athlete and later as a top coach, British team manager and official.

Dorothy was an Olympic medallist and former world record holder, who once said she wanted to slap Hitler after meeting him. She died in Long Melford in 2014.

Self-taught with no coach until she was 28, Mrs Tyler was the first British woman to win an individual Olympic medal after winning silver at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, competing as a 16-year-old.

After the Games, the teenager met both Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels at a reception, reportedly describing Hitler as “just a little man in a big uniform” who she wanted to slap, and calling Goebbels “a bit of a womaniser”.

At the 1948 London Olympics, Mrs Tyler once again won silver - becoming the only woman to win medals either side of the Second World War.

Two years later, she struck gold at the Empire Games in Sydney, the only British female gold medallist. She set the high jump world record of 1.66 metres in Brentwood in 1939.

Competing until she was 37, Mrs Tyler took part in two further Olympic games and retained her Empire Games gold medal in 1950.

Her successes led to her being voted Britain’s all-time best female athlete by the Athletics Statisticians’ Union in 1959.

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