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George's 100th Birthday

Published on 30 August 2023 03:24 PM

Islington resident George is celebrating his 100th birthday!

It was a great privilege speaking to Jenny, George’s daughter, about her Dad George’s 100th birthday.  It really highlighted George’s sense of humour, his life-long love of sport and his enthusiasm about getting involved and helping others.

Jenny is organising a birthday celebration for her Dad, with an open invite for his friends to get in touch with Age UK Islington by 8th September should they want to attend – or 020 7281 6018.

Jenny said “It’s planned for Tuesday 10th October 1.30pm to 5.30pm and we’re expecting people to drop-in throughout the afternoon. We looked through Dad’s phone book to find people who might not have been in contact with Dad for some time.  As Dad has lived in Islington all his life and also knew an enormous number of people from 20 years of going to Drovers, the Age UK Islington activity centre, we also asked Age UK Islington to help put the word out!"

George’s first love has always been sport – football, squash, badminton, tennis, bowls and golf (to name but a few…) He has also taken part in four Hyde Park Fun Runs.  He is a life-long member of The Middlesex Golf Club and at the Drovers he also got the opportunity to try some less familiar activities. He got roped into line dancing (which he enjoyed) and was also invited to join a cookery course.  At home he used to cook a meal every evening for himself, mostly meat and 2 vegetables and the course gave him some more ideas to try out. George was also talked into joining a series of dance sessions run by Sadlers Wells. He took his daughter Jenny along for moral support and they both had a great time!                                              

These days he plays cards regularly with a small group of people at a local community centre.  He was a keen member of ‘Better Get Together’ at Sobell Leisure Centre.  They’ve had to temporarily scale the sports activities back since the flooding of the centre, but he very much enjoyed the table tennis, badminton and bowls and of course spending time with the friends he had made.

3 men holding bowling balls

Bowlers at Sobell Leisure Centre Paul, Jim & George December 2021

George has lived in Islington all his life.  He was born in Rodney Street, just north of Kings Cross, and went to Winton School, just off Caledonian Road.  He went back to school there in later life to hear children read – an initiative that was organised by Age UK Islington.  He also played board games with the children – snakes & ladders, draughts and chess, often with those children who needed a boost.  He has always loved playing board games so it was a great fit!

He is also a qualified football referee and ran a team, The O’s, for the Boys Football League in Finsbury Park.  He is an avid Arsenal supporter and whilst he doesn’t get along to matches these days, follows them closely on TV.  Also, these days, the ladies football!

As a youth, he attended a boys’ group in St Silas Church. Father Johnson ran the group and they made up plays and did boxing training. George said, “He used to sometimes take us boys out on trips for a special treat. Once we were taken to a restaurant in the West End for tea and cake. It felt really posh and we definitely thought we’d arrived!  Occasionally we went for a day out in the countryside. Once we went punting in Cambridge, which we loved, and we looked round the colleges.”

When he was a lad he cycled down to Brighton and after a day out, he decided to cycle back home again. He was about 14 years old.  “Unfortunately, he fell in a ditch on the way back.  He could feel himself going, but he was so exhausted that he couldn’t do anything about it! He eventually found the energy to get back on his bike and on his way. He arrived home at about 11.30pm to a very worried mum who was looking out of the window for him”, says Jenny.  More recently (when he was 75 years old) he took his grandson roller skating!

George worked as a printer for many years in small companies around Old Street and then more recently for about 17 years at a printers at Potter’s Bar.  He was in the forces in the 2nd World War and is now one of 3 such veterans remaining in Islington. He is a member of the Islington Veterans Association, who were granted the Freedom of the Borough of Islington. He went on a visit to Normandy for the 75th anniversary of D-Day and was invited to answer questions asked by a class of French children who wanted to know about his war experiences. They treated him to a slap up lunch. It was organised by the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans. He travelled there and back in a black cab!

older man in jacket wearing medalsAsking Jenny what George's secret recipe for reaching 100 years, she said “Probably his sense of humour and the fact that he really cares about winning! Dad has always thought it important to have interests outside of work- he believes this helped him and led to opportunities for him to put something back.”