Adored resident among UK’s oldest living war veterans celebrates 104th birthday
A BELOVED care village resident who is among the country’s oldest living Second World War veterans is celebrating turning 104.
On Thursday, January 26, Joe Donohue, a decorated veteran and resident at Your Housing Group’s Ryfields Retirement Village in Orford, celebrated his birthday.
Joe spent his special day surrounded by many neighbours and friends during a party in the village’s onsite bistro.
Although he is slowing down in his older years, Joe has enjoyed a fulfilling year surrounded by the love and support of his family.
He has four children – three boys and a girl – as well as eight grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.
Joe enjoys spending time with his wonderful family during their regular visits to Ryfields, in particular with his two youngest grandchildren – nine-year-old Oscar and three-year-old Marty.
Joe Donohue celebrated his 104th birthday at Ryfields with his family
With an incredible 101-year gap between Joe and Marty, the family think it could be among the greatest ever recorded in this country for a grandparent and grandchild.
During 2022, Joe was delighted that he met his two youngest great grandchildren for the first time. Hughie, who was born in Colombia, and Julian, who was born in Ireland, are both under five.
The Queen’s death in September was sad for Joe as he has witnessed her entire reign, but his family say that was ‘impressed by the ceremonial organisation around the funeral and the accession of King Charles’.
As one of the oldest living veterans of the Second World War, Joe closely follow the of D-Day commemoration and Remembrance Sunday events in June and November respectively.
Joe served in the Royal Artillery and was one of the ‘Desert Rats’ at the battle of El Alamein in north Africa.
He was also part of the second wave of D-Day that landed on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944.
Joe was part of the second wave that landed on the beaches of Normandy during D-Day
In addition, he was also part of Operation Market Garden in Holland, which was later made into the film ‘A Bridge Too Far’, starring Sean Connery and Michael Caine.
Joe served alongside some well-known faces in Arthur Lowe, better known for his role as Captain Mainwaring in Dad’s Army, and former Liverpool FC manager Bob Paisley.
His Liverpool connections do not stop there, as he grew up with another renowned Liverpool manager in Joe Fagan.
However, it is worth noting that Joe himself is an Everton supporter and has a number 100 shirt from his centenary birthday.
Joe spent 69 wonderful years married to the love of his life, Lillian, before she sadly passed nearly four years ago. He moved to Ryfields with Lillian shortly before she passed away.
Joe and his family selected Ryfields Retirement Village because of its independent but supportive offering.
Joe, who took the photo, served in the military with Dad's Army star Arthur Lowe (far left)
Joe can enjoy a fully independent life, but the family know that there is extra support there if he ever needs it, and they commented that it was that support that enabled Joe and Lillian to be able to stay together a little bit longer.
This last year would have been Lillian’s 100th birthday, and there is a special memorial bench for her at Ryfields where Joe and his family can sit and remember her.
Joe spoke highly of the village and said: “It is lovely living here at Ryfields. Everyone has been so wonderful.”
Danielle McCann, scheme manager at Ryfields, added: “Everyone from Your Housing Group wishes Joe a huge happy birthday.
“He is a wonderful member of our community here. Everyone knows Joe, and we are so pleased to have the opportunity to celebrate with him.”