London-born man celebrates his 111th birthday with 111 cards - and a glass of whisky

John Farringdon celebrates his 111th birthday at Cubbington Mill Care Home in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, June 7, 2024.
-Credit: (Image: SWNS)

A London-born man has toasted to his 111th birthday today (Friday, June 7) with a glass of whisky, an ABBA tribute act, and an impressive 111 cards from admirers. Born on June 7, 1913, in Enfield, North London, John Farringdon now holds the title of the second oldest man in the world, having hit this remarkable age.

He credits his long life to a daily indulgence in Grant's whisky and a hearty full English breakfast at his care home in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. Matching the age of the current oldest man, fellow Brit John Tinniswood who lives in Liverpool, Farringdon celebrated this extraordinary day at Cubbington Mill Care Home in Leamington Spa.

His life spanning over a century, beginning just a year after the Titanic disaster and during the reign of George V, was commemorated with a party at the care home. The celebrations included a visit from local school kids, a sizzling barbecue, afternoon tea, and a lively performance by an ABBA tribute band.

READ MORE: 104-year-old London woman honoured with French Legion of Honour for crafting D-Day maps

John Farringdon, 111, has a glass of whisky for his birthday
John Farringdon celebrated his 11th birthday with a glass of whisky, an ABBA tribute band and 111 cards from well-wishers -Credit:SWNS

The care home staff had previously launched a social media campaign hoping to gather 111 birthday cards for John, adding to his collection which includes nine from the Queen and two from the King.

The response was overwhelming, with the community showering him with cards and presents, leading the staff to believe they've exceeded their goal.

Laura Russell, the general manager at Cubbington Mill, said: "We wanted it to be special for John so we put an appeal out on social media for 111 cards. Because of his age John doesn't have lots of family, but we here are like family to him and we are very proud to have him here."

Laura continued: "I think we've easily beaten that number although he's yet to open them all because it is going to take quite a while and we have a busy day for him planned. Last year we had to open his cards the following day just because we didn't have enough time."

She also revealed that John's step-daughter, who is in her 80s, would be travelling to the party from Devon. Speaking on John's bubbly personality, Laura said: "John enjoys a party so I'm sure we'll have a brilliant day. He enjoys a whisky John does - and I'm sure he'll have one today, probably more than just the one actually. He is now the second oldest man in the world - but you wouldn't know it if you met him."

Despite being hard of hearing, Laura said John is 'still doing fantastic' and that having him in the care home was 'an honour'. She said: "During this week especially when we're remembering our D-Day veterans, its quite poignant to celebrate somebody of this remarkable age."

Born in Enfield, north London, a year before the First World War, John had his first job repairing typewriters at the age of 16. He then worked for car manufacturers Ford for 40 years - first in Dagenham, Essex, before moving to their foundry in Leamington Spa. Through the war years he made tank parts for the army, but dreamed of being a Spitfire pilot.

The car enthusiast, who astonishingly was still behind the wheel at 103, had a fitting final ride with a Ford Focus. In a poignant moment last year, the avid politics fan realised a lifelong ambition by taking a tour of Parliament where he met Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

John outlived his long-term partner Vera, mother to his step-daughter Jennifer who resides in Devon, as well as his wife Irene. Attributing his longevity to perhaps an unexpected source, John quipped that it might be "all the female company" he's enjoyed over the years.

Reflecting on the surprise festivities for his birthday, he shared: "I didn't really know what was going to happen today, they kept all this a secret from me. I've just been trying to take everything in. I've had so many visitors."

When pondering the oft-asked question about his secret to a long life, John mused: "People ask me all the time what's the secret to living so long, I don't really know - maybe its all the female company that I've had. My earliest memory is being turned down by air force, I wanted to be a Spitfire pilot. They turned me down on account of my deafness. I could have cried."

John also holds vivid memories of wartime Britain, recalling: "I do remember bits of the First World War too, all the zeppelins coming over. D-day this week has been difficult to take in, you can't believe it, wading through that channel to deliver us from the Nazis. I remember it well."

Despite being informed that he's the second oldest person, John humorously observed: "I'm told I'm the second oldest and I think the oldest looks a bit younger than me actually. It doesn't feel much different to be honest, there's not that much difference between that and 110."

Want more from MyLondon? Sign up to our daily newsletters for all the latest and greatest from across London here.