A man who first visited a seaside town as a teenager has returned 50 years later to meet the mayor.

Firdause Sheikh was one of a group of 40 Pakistani apprentices who spent their two-week Christmas holiday in Worthing in 1951.

The group came to Sussex as a break from their course at RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire.

On Wednesday Worthing Mayor Valerie Sutton welcomed Mr Sheikh back to the town, and his first experiences of British society came flooding back.

Mr Sheikh, 67, said: "Today was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life. I am just me, no one special, but I was given such a grand reception by the mayor."

In a three-day visit to the town he was invited to tea in the mayor's parlour and revisited places he remembered from five decades ago.

He said: "It was just like yesterday - everything I experienced, everyone I met, it all seemed so vivid.

"I felt as if I was 17 again running across the beach."

Mr Sheikh recalled: "At that time my country was only four years old and some of us still suffered from the colonial hangover.

"I came from the poorest of families. I had an inferiority complex even in the presence of well-to-do Pakistanis.

"The only white people I knew were rulers and magistrates."

But instead of racism Mr Sheikh found warmth and hospitality in Worthing.

He said: "I landed on a new planet. First the mayor, then the media and then the citizens spread their loving arms to make me feel like a celebrity.

"I realised we were all the same whatever our religion. All you have to do is place the holy books of the Christian Bible, the Jewish Tora and the Muslim Koran side by side. Then you will realise how much we all have in common.

"It was in Worthing that I fell in love with England.

"When I arrived here I was a boy unable to stand on my own two feet. At the end of my vacation I returned to RAF Halton a man."

Mr Sheikh returned to Pakistan to work for the air force in 1954. He and his wife Naeema, 55, moved to London in September last year to be with their son Sarid, 28, who married a British girl.

He said: "I have had the most lovely time and am so glad I came back to spend New Year here. Worthing made me who I am today. That is why I had to return."

Mr Sheikh intends to visit the town again in the Summer.