It was the birthday milestone Douglas Dickinson thought he’d never reach.

But reach it he did, and last Wednesday the Manor Court Werribee Aged Care resident celebrated his 100th birthday, with family flying in from all over the world – including China, Italy and New Zealand – to celebrate.

Mr Dickinson, who was born on January 3, 1918 in Coventry, England, has had his fair share of health concerns over his lifetime, and in 1998 doctors only gave him two years to live when he was diagnosed with cancer.

Wife Jean said: “Several times doctors told us he can’t go on, and here he is.”

Mr Dickinson, who was a king’s scout as a boy, moved to London when he was 18 and started working in the export sales industry.

He was then conscripted to the British Army, where he worked in the psychological warfare unit and received an MBE for parachuting into German-occupied Albania.

It was during his six-and-a-half years in the army that Douglas, by then a captain, met wife Jean at a dance in the Yorkshire Dales. Five weeks later, the two lovebirds were engaged. The couple have been married for 71 years.

Mr Dickinson, who could speak a number of languages, went back into the export sales market after the army, and also got a music degree and started a second career as a piano teacher.

He was still playing until only a few months ago, when he suffered a stroke.

The Dickinsons and their three children – Paul, Louise and Clive – moved to New Zealand in the 1950s for work, and then Douglas and Jean made Australia home in 1995.

Mr Dickinson also has four grandsons, one of whom shares his birthday, and one great-grandson.