Suffolk war veteran's love affair with cycling still going strong at 99-years-old

A World War Two veteran from Suffolk is cycling at least ten miles everyday to keep active.

Having just celebrated his 99th birthday, Norman Gregory isn't ready to put his feet up just yet.

Norman is out on his bicycle clocking up the miles around his village in Cockfield, near Bury St Edmunds everyday.

His local lanes are quiet and perfect for a gentle spin.

Norman came on active service in the Royal Air Force in 1942. Credit: ITV Anglia

Norman first started riding his mother's bike when he was eight-years-old.

By the time he reached secondary school in 1934, Norman was cycling 100 miles a week between his village and grammar school in Sudbury.

Norman joined the RAF when he was 20 and served with Bomber Command and finished his service in February 1946 with the rank of Warrant Officer.

One night over Dortmund, his Lancaster bomber was shot down, but amazingly Norman survived after jumping out of the escape hatch at 23,000ft.

Norman was later captured by the Germans as a Prisoner of War and made to march across Eastern Europe in unimaginable conditions.

"There was a metre of snow and it was the worst winter for 40 years", Norman said.

"Day and night it was freezing, often blizzard conditions. We marched for 21 days, sometimes we marched all night.

"I had four pairs of socks - two pairs on my feet and the other two pairs were inside my shirt against my body to keep warm."

"I was never never frightened. The reason I can say that was that i knew all along that I was going to be killed. Because I accepted the fact I wasn't afraid."

Norman is very well known around the village of Cockfield, Suffolk. Credit: ITV Anglia

Norman flew seven different planes during the war, but bicycles continued to play a part in his life.

He considered the Dawes cycle he owned to be his most prized possession. 

He lent the machine to an Australian crew member, who left it unattended outside a dance and it sadly was stolen.

Today, Norman is something of a local celebrity in his village and has many friends, which he refers to as his "extended family."

ITV Anglia reporter Raveena Ghattaura joined Norman for a bike ride. Credit: ITV Anglia

In the past few years, he has participated in the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust bike ride, to raise money for the local churches.

With better weather to hopefully look forward to, Norman hopes to get out and enjoy the Suffolk countryside on his bike as much as he can.

The veteran knows better than anyone not to take life for granted.