WHEN Howard Gibbon was handed an envelope from Buckingham Palace on September 3, he knew that his 100th birthday had been acknowledged by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Five days later, the Queen was dead.
As a result, Howard could well be the last person in Wales who has received one of Her Majesty’s coveted birthday acknowledgments.
“Because of the postal strikes that affected the country leading up to his birthday, we were concerned that the card wouldn’t arrive in time,” said Howard’s son, Jeff.
“But fortunately it arrived the day before his birthday. So we saved it back and gave it to him on the day itself. But then, five days later, we heard the tragic news that Her Majesty had passed away.
“So it’s quite possible that my father is one of the very last people who will ever receive a birthday message from Queen Elizabeth II.”
Howard was born on September 3, 1922, at the family smallholding at Bryn Meliln, Whitland.
Four years later his parents moved to the larger adjoining farm at Pwll y Whead where Howard continued toiling the land right up until the farm was taken over by his son, William.
But despite no longer being involved with the farming operations, Howard remains a very active member of the household.
“When the boys come home from work their supper is always ready for them, having been prepared by my father,” continued Howard.
“Despite having reached a hundred, he’s still in very good health and his mind is as sharp as a pin.
"In fact his memory is far better than mine. Whenever we happen to go to the shop together in Whitland, he tends to remember a person’s name a long time before I do.”
Howard served as a part-time fire officer in Whitland, a position he held for 25 years and was also the sub-officer in charge of the station when he retired at the mandatory age of 55.
He was also one of the founder members of the South West Wales National Vintage Tractor and Engine Club where he served as secretary for many years.
Howard and his late wife Katy had three children - Ann, who sadly died when she was just 49 years of age, and two sons, William and Jeff.
“We’re very proud of our father but also very grateful that he’s reached this incredible age in such a healthy manner,” concluded Jeff.
“The only thing that’s slowing him down is the fact that he has 20 per cent vision in one eye as a result of a burst retina which forced him to stop driving when he was in his late 80s. But at the end of the day, that’s a very small price to pay for the life he continues to lead.”
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