Final journey for one of country's oldest jet-setters
A retired shepherd who flew for the first time when he was 100 and celebrated his 102nd birthday with a helicopter ride has died.
William Bevan, one of the country's oldest men, celebrated his 106th birthday in September.
He stayed independent to the last, living in his own bungalow in Lutterworth, supported by his family.
However, he had been in poor health in recent months and died at home on February 26.
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He always led an active life, so to celebrate turning 100, his family paid for him to fly from East Midlands Airport to Edinburgh. Mr Bevan told the Mercury at the time: "I enjoyed the flight very much. I'm glad I got the chance to do it. I think Edinburgh is a lovely city."
Two years later, he rode in a helicopter and celebrated his 103rd birthday with a horse and carriage ride.
He wanted to go up in a balloon for his 104th but his family would not let him because the landing would be too bumpy.
When he was asked by the Mercury on his 105th birthday what he owed his long life to, Mr Bevan said: "I've got no secret at all, only hard work. A bit of gardening, as well."
Son Dennis, 81, of Syston, said: "He had a good life and had done well. It's only these past six months he'd gone downhill and he was still living alone with our help.
"He was only bed-ridden for one day at the end – his doctors say he was just worn out. He still knew everything and who everyone was, right up to the end. He was marvellous."
Mr Bevan, whose wife, Liz, died in 1997, grew up in Herefordshire and spent all his life working with animals, breaking shire horses and working as a wagoner.
He moved with his family to Leicestershire in 1948 to work as a shepherd for Lord and Lady Cromwell at Misterton Hall, near Lutterworth, where he was a renowned sheepdog trainer.
He fixed shoes and watches in his spare time to make extra money.
Mr Bevan was also skilled at thatching roofs, hairdressing and making cider.
He enjoyed a party, and on his 106th birthday enjoyed a celebratory lunch with his family at The Elms pub, in Lutterworth.
Daughter Pam Whyment said at the time: "He was delighted to receive a card from the Queen and others from the council and the MP, Andrew Robathan."
He leaves three children, 15 grandchildren, 31 great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren.