Reg Chard thought turning 100 was going to be just like any other year.
But it turned out to be more than he expected, he told Canterbury-Bankstown Mayor Bilal El-Hayek, who popped into his Villawood home to wish him a happy birthday.
“I never thought it was going to be this good, but I got the surprise of my life! I found people that I’ve known for years and they’ve come out of the woodworks – it’s beautiful,” Reg said.
One of Canterbury-Bankstown’s last surviving WWII Veterans, Reg is passionate about sharing his experiences with school children and visitors at the Kokoda Memorial Track Walkway.
Reg joined the army as soon as he turned 18 and in 1942, after the fall of Singapore, he and his fellow soldiers were sent to Papua New Guinea to fight on the Kokoda Track.
“Unfortunately, all the others, there were 22 of us over there at the same time, they have all passed away over a period of time,” he said.
He also enjoyed a long career working as an apprentice baker and later operating a blast furnace in an iron foundry.
Reg, who was married to his late wife, Betty, for 66 years, celebrated his special day with a party at the Kokoda Memorial Walkway, followed by a family gathering with his son, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“I don’t like being the centre of attention, but it was very nice,” he said.
Reg’s advice to young people is simple – use manners and be kind to each other.
“If you can help somebody who is not as well off as yourself, do so! You have no idea just what it means to them.”
Mayor El-Hayek describes Reg as a “living treasure” who is well known to the locals and the wider community.
“From serving in the war to serving in the community through shared storytelling, Reg is truly a symbol of hard work and dedication,” Mayor El-Hayek said.
“Reg, thank you for your service and from all of us here at Canterbury-Bankstown, we wish you a happy 100th birthday!”