A FORMER trawler fisherman who saved two cruiseliner passengers after they fell into the sea in a storm has celebrated his 100th birthday.
Magnus Cormack was born in Leith, Edinburgh, and worked on fishing boats, regularly travelling to waters near Iceland.
But on one stormy trip into the north Atlantic, Mr Cormack, who has lived in Oxfordshire for almost 50 years, saw two men fall from a cruise ship into the sea.
A good swimmer, he didn’t hesitate and jumped in after them despite the boats being pounded by the waves.
Father-of-seven Mr Cormack managed to get the pair back to his boat. Later he was awarded with two bravery awards for his deed.
He said: “I saved the two of them, when we came into Granton harbour in Edinburgh. They tried to give me money but I said no.
“I wasn’t afraid of the water. I learned to swim when I was a wee boy. I loved going in the sea – the best time was when it was raining. It was the best life. I would give £1,000 to be back on the ocean waves.”
Called Pop by his family, Mr Cormack, who has 30 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren, worked on large trawlers for about 40 years.
He was called up in 1940 and joined regiment the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, KOSB, serving for eight years.
Mr Cormack was based at a prisoner of war camp just outside Edinburgh and described taking blindfolded prisoners off transport boats to the jail.
In 1965 he and his late wife Marion, nee Gardener, moved to Bicester to be near their family.
He worked at the former US Air Force base at Upper Heyford and remembers putting roofs on the aircraft hangars.
He later worked as a maintenance engineer at Bicester Defence Storage and Distribution Centre until he retired aged 75.
A regular at Bicester Health and Wellbeing Centre, in Launton Road, Mr Cormack was the centre of attention on Monday after staff organised a big 100th birthday party in his honour.
Manager Jan Clarke said: “Magnus loves dogs and singing and has a fantastic sense of humour.
“He tells of how he met the Queen on a number of occasions at Balmoral and how he used to love seeing her Corgis.”
Mr Cormack said when the Queen visited Balmoral he went along to try to catch a glimpse – and on one occasion the pair chatted about the Queen’s dogs.
Asked the secret of a long life, Mr Cormack said: “I am guided by my old Dad’s words. Never look back, always look forward.
“And I smoked a pipe from the age of seven and enjoy a tipple of the hard stuff every day.”
Mr Cormack had seven children, Mary, David, Taylor, Marion, Elizabeth, Andrew and William.