England’s oldest man Bob Weighton has put his longevity down to being one of “life’s survivors”.
The former teacher and engineer is celebrating his 111th birthday today with his many friends at his retirement flat in Alton, Hampshire.
Reacting to the fuss surrounding his birthday, Mr Weighton, who was born in Hull on March 29 1908, said: “I do not like the attention.
“I quite like meeting people I have never seen before, that’s one of my delights. I like meeting people who have been places and have some understanding of what it means to be human.”
He said he had requested not to get a birthday card from the Queen any more, explaining: “I do not see why the state should pay for the Queen to send out all these things, it’s not a personal thing.
“I thought that’s enough, but I might consider another one next year if I live that long.”
When asked for the secret of his longevity, he joked: “By avoiding dying – there’s no reason otherwise. I have had the usual scares, flu, influenza, malaria, two or three operations; I ought to be dead but I am a survivor, if you like.”
Mr Weighton, who had two sons and a daughter, 10 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren, said the world had changed “enormously” in his lifetime but people had mostly stayed the same.
He said: “Visually and in physical terms, it’s changed enormously, in what human beings are – not at all.
“The basic concerns of human beings of meeting and interacting with other human beings is exactly the same – ‘can this person be trusted?’”
In terms of changes in the world, he said: “In practical terms, one thing is the speed of travel. In 1933 I travelled to the Far East on a P&O boat to Hong Kong and it took six weeks, now you can fly there in about eight or nine hours.”
He said the speed of communication was the other big change and he will be holding a Skype conversation on his birthday with a school in Taiwan where he taught in the 1930s.
But Mr Weighton said he was not tempted to get a mobile phone because he could just as easily phone someone else to ask them to look anything up for him.
Describing himself as an “international person”, Mr Weighton said he kept up to date with world news by reading The Economist which avoids the “tittle and tattle and gossip”.
As for his view of Brexit, he described it as a “mess and a muddle” adding: “My own feeling is that if there were defects, and there were quite obviously defects, we can negotiate on the inside rather than walking off the field with the cricket ball and saying ‘I’m not playing’.”
Mr Weighton, a retired engineer, still has a workshop in his flat where he makes windmills and ornaments from recycled wood.
And he still shops and cooks for himself and regularly goes to the local supermarket using his walking aid, for which he has had a new number plate – Bob 111 – created to mark his birthday.
Mr Weighton addedd: “It causes a lot of amusement and it’s a talking point. A lot of people looking glum when they see that, they begin to smile.”
“Promoting human interaction is the motive of my life.”
Mr Weighton shares his birthday and age with the UK’s other oldest man Alfred Smith, from the village of St Madoes in Perthshire.
Mr Smith was born in Invergowrie in 1908, the fifth of six sons of John and Jessie Smith.
He was educated at Invergowrie Primary School and Harris Academy, Dundee.
He emigrated to Canada, along with four of his brothers, in 1927 but returned after five years and went on to drive lorries for his brother George.
During the Second World War, he was in the Home Guard, and married Isobel when he was 29. The couple went on to farm at Kinfauns where they raised two children, Irene and Allan.
Mrs Smith died more than 15 years ago, aged 97 while his son Allan, who worked with his father on the farm for 40 years, died in 2016.
Mr Smith retired at the age of 70 but continued to go to the farm until well into his 80s.
Asked for his secret to a long and happy life in a previous interview the former farmer said: “Porridge is helpful and having a job you enjoy.
“I like to think I’ve lived a decent life. I do ask myself – why me? Why have I lived so long when others haven’t?”