A WAR hero, an Olympic torchbearer and, most importantly, a loving husband and father, Ray Budden has led an incredible life.
He’s set to celebrate his 100th birthday this weekend surrounded by family, who like the rest of us can only marvel at all the achievements he’s compiled.
Muswellbrook born and bred, Mr Budden is still a vibrant and happy individual who is never short of a laugh.
Speaking to the Chronicle, the near-centenarian said he never expected to make it this far, but is taking it all in stride.
“It’s distressing in a way but I’m handling it alright, so far so good,” he laughed.
“It’s a long way away when it started but it’s getting very close now.”
He said that while making to 100 is never something he thought about, and he didn’t have a secret to living longer than most, he knew he was a chance given his mother’s effort, as she reached 101.
The family genes have been spread far and wide since he was young, with Mr Budden now having children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and, as of last year great, great grandchildren.
He’s used to large families though, with the 41 descendants paling in comparison to his first cousins, of which he had more than 70.
Mr Budden added there had been many great moments in his life, but one of the best was his role in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
“Carrying the torch [was my favourite], apart from family happenings,” he said.
“All sorts of good things happen throughout your life but carrying the torch was a very rewarding thing.”
While many people yearn for the past, Mr Budden is more than satisfied to be living in the present, especially after having fought in WWII.
“Four years I served, a bit over four years, so I was lucky I came back and that was the good part,” he said.
“My sister used to say ‘we should go back to the good old days’, and I said there’s only one good thing about the old days — they’ve gone.”
Still keen for a laugh and a chat, he will inevitably enjoy his birthday on the weekend, where a significant turnout is expected for one of the town’s greatest identities.