Tom celebrates his big one hundred

Tom Treece-Birch (seated centre) celebrates his 100th birthday with his family.
Tom Treece-Birch (seated centre) celebrates his 100th birthday with his family.
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It is thought he is Fleetwood’s oldest surviving ex-fishermen - and after celebrating his 100th birthday last week he probably is!

Tom Treece-Birch, who still lives at home in the south part of the town, marked the big occasion with his 93-year-old wife, Jenny, and members of his family last Thursday, although his birthday was actually on Tuesday, February 14.

Tom Treece-Birch celebrated his 100th birthday on the 14th of Feb.  He is pictured with Jenny Treece-Birch.

Tom Treece-Birch celebrated his 100th birthday on the 14th of Feb. He is pictured with Jenny Treece-Birch.

Tom and Jenny have been married for 72 years and the couple have three daughters as well as a number of grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Tom was overwhelmed by the numbers at the party, saying in his short speech: ”I never knew I had so many friends.”

The centenarian, who has lived in the town all his life and is proud of the town’s fishing heritage, first went to sea in 1931, when he was 14 and “half-decky” on a vessel skippered by his dad George.

At 17 Tom began his career properly, serving for Bostons as decky on the trawler Cresswell (M129) before graduating to bosun.

It was around about this time that Tom nearly lost his life at sea, being thrown over the side of his ship when he was hit by a wire, but he somehow had the presence of mind to hang on to part of the trawl.

He nearly drowned.

Tom may have looked back on his fishing career with pride but in a Weekly News article nine years ago he admitted: “I wouldn’t say I enjoyed fishing, personally. In Fleetwood at that time there was nothing else to do as a career – it either that or the docks, really.”

During the Second World Tom served in the Royal Naval Patrol Service on the converted trawler Scottish, carrying out anti-submarine duties in Gibraltar.

John Houten, Tom’s son-in-law, said: “It was a wonderful party and Tom was thrilled to see everyone there.”