COUNTY NEWS: Oldest living Olympian and war hero receives honour

The oldest living Olympian has been awarded a civic honour.

Bill Lucas with his Certificate of Achievement. Picture: West Sussex County Council
Bill Lucas with his Certificate of Achievement. Picture: West Sussex County Council

War hero Bill Lucas, 100, from Cowfold, has been awarded a West Sussex Certificate of Achievement – an honour presented only a handful of times each year.

The centenarian, who reached the milestone on January 16, ran the 5,000 metres at the 1948 Olympics after the war ruined his chances in the 1940 Helsinki games and were subsequently cancelled in 1944.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

He is president of the Royal Air Force Association branch in Haywards Heath.

Bill Lucas with crew members. Picture: West Sussex County Council

He said: “I am quite honoured really, it was unexpected.”

Bill was given the the honour on March 3, by Susan Pyper, Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex, and Pat Arculus, chairman of West Sussex County Council.

They were joined by Lionel Barnard, county councillor for Henfield and county council vice chairman, who nominated Bill for the award.

Bill flew 81 life-threatening missions during World War II as a wartime pilot of heavy bombers and a path finder and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

He has also been president of the Belgrave Harriers three times, after spending many years developing future athletes in the London athletics club.

Pat Arculas, chairman of West Sussex County Council, said: “Bill is a remarkable man and it’s a pleasure to be recognising that.

“There is a tremendous amount of pride and gratitude for a man who so selflessly served his country. It’s incredible to see what he has achieved in 100 years.”

Born in 1917, Bill discovered his passion for running at school.

His father had been in the army as a Sergeant in the Northamptonshire Regiment and was awarded a Military Medal for saving his commanding officer.

Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.

Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.

1) Make our website your homepage

2) Like our Facebook page

3) Follow us on Twitter

4) Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.

And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!

Always the first with your local news.

Be part of it.