A war hero and keen gardener who made a huge contribution to Farnham In Bloom has died a couple of months before his 101st birthday.

Frank Rhodes, who was born and bred in Staffordshire but moved to Farnham 12 years ago, was given a certificate by the town’s mayor and a personal message of congratulations from celebrity gardener Alan Titchmarsh for his flowers.

Frank also helped Prince Edward, the Duke of Edinburgh,  plant a tree on Jubilee Walk commemorating the late Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years on the throne last March.

During the Second World War he was injured during the Allied advance through southern Italy when he was hit in the head by shrapnel in Anzio.

Frank also served with the North Staffordshire Regiment as an infantryman in North Africa and Palestine.

He had a long career as a joiner and built the home where he lived with his family for 40 years.

Frank was married to Merci for 60 years and after her death moved to Farnham to be close to his family, moving into Abbeyfield’s Wey Valley house in 2011.

He used to display his flowers at the Staffordshire County Show and Shrewsbury Flower Show, and won a gold award at Farnham In Bloom three years in a row for his floral displays at Wey Valley House,

Frank celebrated his 100th birthday in January last year, where the mayor of Farnham, Councillor Alan Earwaker, gave him a certificate or his contribution to Farnham In Bloom.

He also received a card from King Charles III – one of the first centenarians to receive a card from the new monarch.

Frank was also a big football and cricket fan, supporting Wolverhampton Wanderers all his life, and had a football-themed 100th birthday cake.

An Abbeyfield Wey Valley Society spokesman said he embraced life within the AWVS community and was a well-known personality within the home and in and around Farnham.

‘‘Embracing technology and taking help and advice from some of Abbeyfield Wey Valley’s volunteers ensured he also became very proficient in modern communication techniques,’’ the spokesman said.

‘‘This enabled him to maintain and nurture friendships with many people around the world from his computer.

‘‘Frank always had a smile on his face and a friendly chat for anyone. He was a kind, loving, thoughtful and caring person and Abbeyfield Wey Valley Society are proud to have helped support him embrace his life in Farnham over the past 12 years. 

‘‘He will be missed not only by everyone at Wey Valley House, but also within the society as a whole.’’

Frank was laid to rest at Aldershot Crematorium on December 15.

His family in Farnham moved to San Diego in the US for work, but his granddaughter Sarah and her husband Colin, great-grandsons Will and Louise, and great-granddaughters Poppy and Paisley returned to celebrate his 100th birthday.

Sarah said Frank was the “best granddad ever” and said gardening has “kept him going” by getting him outside and giving him a purpose and interest.