A FORMER Kendal businessman has celebrated his 100th birthday surrounded by family from as far away as Australia.

John Stephenson, who ran the Jack Matthews chain of bookmakers, reached the milestone on March 7 in the company of 22 loved ones, including seven great-grandchildren who travelled in from around the globe.

“He had a brilliant day,” explained his daughter, Marion Deason. “He loved every second of it.

“He had hoped the Queen would deliver his telegram personally, but you can’t have everything!”

Mr Stephenson, of Briarwood, Kendal, enjoyed his birthday at Kilconquhar Castle, Scotland, where he has holidayed every for several years.

He enjoyed a lunch with champagne and birthday cake – with 100 candles.

“It was just what he wanted,” continued Ms Deason, also of Kendal.

Mr Stephenson originally grew up in Carlisle but moved to the south of the county in 1938.

He made a name for himself with his successful business, which had outlets on Kirkland, Finkle Street and Far Cross.

“A lot of people will know him,” added his daughter.

“I think they will be pleased to know how he’s getting on.”