Bank holiday birthday landmark for 105-year-old in Quadring

BIRTHDAY BOY: John Gabbey celebrates his birthday with a special cake presented to him by care worker Annabell Gallagher at Stonehaven Residential Home, Quadring.
BIRTHDAY BOY: John Gabbey celebrates his birthday with a special cake presented to him by care worker Annabell Gallagher at Stonehaven Residential Home, Quadring.
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August Bank Holiday Monday will forever hold special memories for Quadring dad-of-two John Gabbey who celebrated his 105th birthday in the village.

Mr Gabbey was deservedly made to feel like a king by fellow residents, staff and family members at Stonehaven Residential Home where a birthday was held for him on Monday.

John Gabbey as he was when training as an electrician in 1932.

John Gabbey as he was when training as an electrician in 1932.

Born just three years before the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Mr Gabbey’s life started in the same year as chewing gum first went on sale, the first British-made Ford car rolled off the production line and exactly three weeks before the birth of William Golding, author of The Lord of the Flies.

Terence Gabbey, one of Mr Gabbey’s two sons, said: “Dad was born in Fulham, south London, in 1911 and was one of five brothers.

“Shortly after his father died, my dad became a trooper in the Household Cavalry before leaving to apply to join the Zimbabwean (formerly Rhodesian) Police in Africa.

“In the meantime, Dad had a temporary job on the buses until, one day, he went upstairs on an open-top bus to fix a loose sign and was hit by a lamppost.”

It’s difficult to explain my dad’s longevity as he drank strong ale for most of his life and smoked until he was fifty, so no health advantages there

Terence Gabbey, son of 105-year-old John Gabbey

Despite having learning difficulties, Mr Gabbey still has memories of living through World War I, including the horror of seeing London bombed by a German Zeppelin in July 1915.

Later, Mr Gabbey went on to train as an electrician before working in the arms industry during World War II before moving to Lincolnshire where his wife of 60 years, Ethel, died in 1999.

Terence said: “Dad has never had many hobbies, but his main interest has been cars and since retirement, his chief occupation has been the continual improvement of his tool shed.

“It’s difficult to explain my dad’s longevity as he drank strong ale for most of his life and smoked until he was fifty, so no health advantages there.

“I think you just have to put it down to a will to live and a strong curiosity about life.

“As a small child, I used to have a pump-action spinning top which Dad cut open to see how it worked.

“He was very inquisitive and interested in anything mechanical, building up a large collection of tools, including some rather rare and unique ones.

Annabell Gallagher, Mr Gabbey’s care worker at Stonehaven, said: “It’s a pleasure looking after John because he is a lovely man and a proper sweetheart.

“I asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday and John chose to have a tea party, with banners saying ‘Happy Birthday’, a buffet and a big cake with the number 105 on it.

“At Stonehaven, John joins in with a lot of the games like bowls and quoits (where players throw rings over a set distance to land over or near a pin). “He also likes going out for walks and rides in his wheelchair with me as well.”

Terence added: “The birthday party went very well and most of the residents attended.

“We opened all the cards and arranged them round his room, but Dad was very pleased by the Queen’s card.”