A MAN who has been very much at the heart of Sedbergh and its associated parishes has celebrated his 100th birthday.

The Rev Bill Long was ordained and entered the ministry at the town's St Andrew's Parish Church in 1973. His involvement with the church continued until four years ago, when, at the age of 96 he delivered his last sermon at the beginning of the Sedbergh Music Festival, completing a ministry of 34 years as a widely known priest.

His centenary was marked with a lunch for more than 100 guests at the Queen's Hall at Sedbergh School. Family members travelled from Scotland, Manchester, Devon and Cardiff, joining many friends from the parishes of Sedbergh, Firbank, Garsdale and Dent.

Grace was said by the former Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Rev Alec Graham, and the toast was proposed by Mr Long's nephew, Patrick Prenter of Edinburgh.

At the end of the meal Mr Long gave and address, telling of some of the main events in his life.

He was born in south London, grew up in Liverpool, and attended the university there before going to the University of Paris - the Sorbonne - in 1936.

When the Second World War broke out he and his fiancee, Helen, who was a lecturer at the British Institute in Paris, were arrested and interned. They were allowed to marry and spent four years imprisoned near Besancon in eastern France.

During this time he was allowed to travel to Paris to complete his Doctorate in French Literature.

In 1944 they were released and travelled via Lisbon to Liverpool where Mr Long began teaching French, German, Senior English Literature and Religious Studies.