“Pint a day” key to Harleston man’s long life

When centenarian John Newman was born the motorbike was the main form of motorised transport and youngsters kept themselves occupied with outdoor activities, such as swimming in lakes and rivers.

Schoolchildren used lead pencils to write on slates in November 1911, while Strictly Come Dancing-style ballroom dancing was all the rage, so some things never change.

The great-grandfather and fellow residents at Mendham Close residential home enjoyed champagne, red wine and birthday cake at a party to celebrate his 100th birthday on Wednesday.

The former private, who served in the Royal Signals during the Second World War, was born in Plympton, Devon, but grew up in Wetherby, Yorkshire before joining the army aged 17 because he could not find work locally.

He served in France, Germany and Belgium during the Second World War before becoming a telephone engineer working for General Post Office telephones, based at Oxford.

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He met his future wife Irene while living at Oxford and the couple married at Yattendon in Berkshire before moving to Harleston 40 years ago.

The couple initially lived at the Old House on the corner of Mendham Lane and Market Place in Harleston before moving to Anna Court and then Mendham Close residential home.

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Keen motorcyclist Mr Newman paid just �25 when he bought his AJS 350cc bike.

He also had an active lifestyle when he was younger, which included swimming and ballroom dancing to the sounds of dance band leader Victor Sylvester.

His other passions include speedboats- he built three from scratch- and tennis.

He joked his longevity was due to having a pint of beer a day, not to mention the odd glass of red wine.

'I think it helps to have good genes, but I also think having a beer a day helps. I used to smoke when I was younger, but I gave that up due to the cost,' Mr Newman said.

His daughter Pat Savage, 68, joined him at his party along with other relatives including some of his four grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

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