WHEN the family of his elderly neighbour who had recently passed away brought round a plastic sack for his daughter, Owen Williams wasn't prepared for what was inside.

Ken Watson had bought presents for Owen's two-year-old Cadi for the next 14 years. Not only that, but he had also wrapped them beautifully for her.

Ken, who was 87, didn't have grandchildren of his own so would often buy presents for the children of his neighbours in Barry.

But Owen and his wife Caroline couldn't believe that he had been so kind to organise so many presents for their daughter.

Owen said: "We moved to the street three years ago and made a real point of going round and meeting all the neighbours. Ken wasn't in when we first called round, but the next day we heard some banging.

"I went out to investigate and there was Ken in navy overalls bouncing across the face of his house at the top of a 20ft ladder. He was 83 at the time. That just summed him up really, he was a former salvage diver in the Severn Estuary, a seaman, carpenter, baker and he did an aeroplane wing walk when he was 85.

"On that first meeting he gave our dog a chocolate biscuit. She absolutely loved him from that moment on. Really loved him passionately. She would shriek when she saw him, he was such a character.

"He always told us he’d live till he was 100 years old, so these gifts would have taken him up to our little girl’s 16th Christmas."

Ken died in the autumn and his family have been organising his house. Then earlier this week, his daughter arrived at Owen's house with the bag of presents.

Now, they are trying to decide whether to unwrap the presents to work out which ones to give Cadi at the right time in her life, or whether just to try a lucky dip.

Owen said: "My wife and I think it might make a nice Christmas tradition to give our daughter 'a present from Ken' for the next 14 years. Issue is, we really have to open them now. Nobody wants to give a fifteen-year-old Duplo."

But he also said they couldn't resist opening one. Inside was the children's book Christmas Eve at the Mellops by Tomi Ungerer.

Ken's wife, Beryl, died in 2012 at the age of 86. In an interview in 2016, he said: "I can go for up to six days without speaking to anyone.

"After my wife had passed away I took a long time to settle. There’s a space around me. I still hear her voice and speak to her."

Owen Williams's daughter, Cadi, who will now have a gift to open from Ken until she is 16.

He described how, not wanting to sit at home watching TV all day, he had taken up a series of adventurous challenges including wing-walking and sky-diving.

He was also a keen metal detectorist, classical music and opera fan, wood turner, accordion player, election canvasser, and Great British Bake Off viewer.

He said: "I began parachute jumping. I enjoy these sort of things – I feel the rush of the air. The second jump was the best. I thought ‘Gosh, I’m an eagle’.

“Wing-walking isn’t scary. I looked on the computer and it said 63 was the age limit, but as long as you have a medical certificate to say you are in good health it’s all right.

"I think my deep sea diving days helped. When I was considering becoming a diver I remember my wife said, 'If you don’t try it you may always regret it'.”

Spare a thought for Ken this Christmas, and maybe have a glass of sherry for him.

Copy courtesy of Wales Online