ONE of Bexley's oldest and quirkiest character's Joakim Christou affectionately known as 'Chris' to his nearest and dearest has passed away aged 105 and a half.

The Charlton Athletic fan, of Darwin Road, Welling was well known in the local community and spent many happy years as a barman at the Westwood Masonic Centre where he started work at age 80 and retired when he was 102.

Friends have paid tribute to the 'absolute gentleman' who died on January 30 at Queen Elizabeth Hospital after being admitted with a kidney problem.

Ken Newman, 68, of Watling Street, Bexleyheath, worked at a steward at the Bellegrove Road centre with Joakim for two decades.

He said: "Chris was a gem, an absolute gentleman. I have so many great memories of us spending our Sunday's having chats at the club.

"He was quite a reserved man and just a lovely, lovely person."

Joakim was born in Agridaki, Cyprus on August 26 1908 and came to England in 1929 aboard a German cargo ship which docked at Newcastle.

He made his way to London where he found work and four years later in 1933 he met Kath who became his wife in 1938, this marriage lasted for 68 years until she sadly died in 2006.

Joakim has two sons and two grandsons.

During the war Joakim was in the Home Guard at Shooters Hill and was 'very proud' of his role.

Mr Newman said: "We used to talk about the war because I was army as well.

"We used to do funny little marching drills with brooms and mops at the club, it was fun.

"Even at 90-years-old he could still do rifle drill with a broom and a mop, he was such a character.

"He used to work up at a cafe in Belgravia when he was younger and he would always tell me about a famous boxer Primo Carnera who would come in and have his breakfast every morning.

"He could still remember what he ate each day.

"He would be the Father Christmas for the club each year and we all have lovely memories of him doing that."

Joakim retired from work in 1976 but found he could not settle down without the daily routine and so he went to work at Granada Bingo in Greenwich where he stayed for 12 years.

After leaving Granada, due to its’ closure, Joakim at the age of 80 walked down to the Westwood Masonic Centre and applied for a job as a barman and worked there until three years ago.

Joakim revealed his secret to long life to friend of 20 years Bernard Bigginton.

Mr Biggington, 83, Ramillies Road, Blackfen said: "He was a very kind old man. We used to have interesting chats and one day I asked him the secret to his long and happy life.

"He told me he ate lots of salads with olive oil and that was the secret to his longevity.

"He was something special, he used to keep a special glass for me at the bar and always called me Mr Bernie.

"He was a very popular, quiet and kind man."