A former mayor of Test Valley has marked his 100th birthday in style with a gathering in his home village of Abbotts Ann.

Residents and wellwishers gathered at the community shop in the heart of the village to wish George King a happy birthday on Saturday, July 17, ahead of his birthday the following day. Abbotts Ann’s hand bellringers played the celebratory song to him as attendees sung along.

George said that it had been a “marvellous” event, with his son Michael telling assembled guests: “Thank you everyone for coming and getting involved. George would be humbled and honoured to know the esteem you hold him in.”

George and his family moved to the area in 1933, when he was one of nine siblings. That year, his father and eldest brother set up Thomas King and Sons Building Limited, which came from humble origins to be a large employer in the area.

“They were builders on a whole range of sites, working from Salisbury Cathedral, Andover Fire Station and Stannah Lifts to the Army Air Museum,” Michael told the Advertiser. “They’ve really done a lot of things, and were a big part of Andover’s expansion during the 1960s.

“Their first transaction was worth about 11p and in their best years they had a multi-million pound turnover. A lot of the tradespeople now in and around Andover were apprenticed through Kings so in that way they were instrumental in the beginnings of many of the businesses in Andover today.”

Following his building career, George retired from the firm in 1990 and became more involved in local politics.

“He and my mother had always been involved in local politics and wanted to do their best for people,” Michael said, “and George had the honour of welcoming the Queen in 1993 when he was mayor.

“As mayor, he escorted her around when she came to open the HSA building, now Simplyhealth, and the family firm built the building as well so it came full circle.”

George is a keen beekeeper and has seen his family grow, with three children, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Two of his children, Michael and Valerie, were among those at the gathering on Saturday, as well as the current mayor of Test Valley, Councillor Mark Cooper.

“I am stunned by the size of the turnout,” Cllr Cooper said. “I remember George being mayor and a very fine mayor he made too, especially having the lovely privilege of meeting the Queen. I wish him a very happy birthday.”

Another dignitary in attendance was Cllr Maureen Flood, who helped organise the event alongside the community shop manager. Cllr Flood presented George with a present from the village of a Daily Telegraph newspaper book containing front pages for each birthday of George’s life, with a message inscribed in silver on the front. The family also wished to convey their gratitude to Jane Benson for “creating this special memory for George.”

Following the gathering, George enjoyed Sunday with his family at Michael’s home as he celebrated a century of life.