England's oldest man reveals his secret to long life as he celebrates 111th birthday

Stephanie Ayako Karaki Harris
·Contributor
Bob Weighton with his personalised number plate. Source: PA
Bob Weighton with his personalised number plate. Source: PA

England’s oldest man celebrated his 111th birthday today – and put his long life down to his sense of humour.

Bob Weighton, a former teacher and engineer, celebrated his latest milestone with friends in Alton, Hampshire.

Mr Weighton, who was born in Hull on March 29, 1908 and has 25 great-grandchildren, said: “I think laughter is extremely important, most of the trouble in the world is caused by people taking themselves too seriously.”

Reacting to the fuss surrounding his birthday, Mr Weighton said: “I do not like the attention.

“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.”

Mr Weighton said he might consider another card next year if he lives that long. Source: PA
Mr Weighton said he might consider another card next year if he lives that long. Source: PA

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 along with his 25 great-grandchildren also has two sons, a daughter, and 10 grandchildren, said the world had changed “enormously” in his lifetime but people had mostly stayed the same.

He said: “The basic concerns of human beings meeting and interacting with other human beings is exactly the same – ‘can this person be trusted?’”

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.

Undated family handout photo of Bob Weighton teaching in 1934. Source: PA
Undated family handout photo of Bob Weighton teaching in 1934. Source: PA

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, regularly going to the local supermarket using his walking aid, for which he has had a new number plate – Bob 111 – created to mark his birthday.

He shares his birthday and age with the UK’s other oldest man Alfred Smith, from the village of St Madoes in Perthshire, Scotland.

Mr Smith was born in Invergowrie on 29 March, 1908, the fifth of six sons of John and Jessie Smith.

During the Second World War, he was in the Home Guard, married his wife Isobel when he was 29, and 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.

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?”

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