Bowler 100 not out and still rolling along
At 100 years of age lawn bowler Ron Radford isn’t short of wisdom on a variety of subjects.
Now a life member of the Cashmere Bowling Club he began playing the sport 40 years ago, enjoying the opportunity to mingle with friends and opponents on the greens and, when things went really well, to collect meat packs as reward for his successes.
‘‘There was a bloke chasing me down to join the bowling club and I told him I would join it when I was retired,’’ Radford recalls. ‘‘Later I started working at the club, that’s why they made me a life member; doing earthworks, and top dressing the greens.’’
Radford can still fire down a black orb, too. With the assistance of a ‘‘lifter’’ stick, that helps keep his aim steady and true, he has retained the knack. When Cashmere held its club opening day last month, Radford was there to impress with his accuracy.
This is a man accustomed to overcoming the odds.
Born in Christchurch in the final year of World War I in 1918 and raised on his parent’s farm in the Okuti Valley on Banks Peninsula, Radford endured the hardships of the Great Depression in the 1930s, and served as a wireless operator and air gunner with the Royal New Zealand Air Force in the Pacific in World War II.
He survived his share of nasty scrapes during the conflict, including crash landings at Whenuapai airfield, a take-off which almost resulted in the plane diving nose-diving to earth, and being shelled by the Japanese while in camp in the tropics.
It was during the Great Depression that he learned to respect the value of tough graft.
‘‘We got through that one but it was hard. We had to work very hard, no doubt about it. Anyway, it didn’t do us any harm. We have lived long lives, a lot of us.’’
In 1993 Radford astounded doctors by quickly recovering from a serious bout of double pneumonia. The doctors expressed concerns he may not make a full recovery, but within a week of being hospitalised he was back home.
Upon his return from the war, Radford elected to go farming with his late wife Edna. They had four children. Later the family moved to Christchurch, coinciding with Ron’s career change to engineering.
Radford celebrated his 100th birthday in June, having moved into the Essie Summers retirement village in Christchurch earlier this year. His longevity can be attributed to, among other things, his Christian faith, and a healthy upbringing.
Clearing gorse and scrub as a youngster on his parent’s property was tough, but there was no shirking that responsibility. You got on with it.
‘‘There was no machinery back then, I used to hate that job. I wasn’t very big but I did it. You had to make your own fun back then, and a lot of it was a very enjoyable life in a hard way.
‘‘I have always believed in exercise, you can’t sit around and not do anything. Keep your blood circulating, keep moving.’’
Nowadays he isn’t fussed with having to use the internet. Drinking alcohol never held great appeal, either.
Having sampled it during his teenage years he opted to make a lifestyle choice: ‘‘I saw no future in that, so I gave that away. I didn’t mind a quiet drink, but that was about as far as it went.’’
Ron Radford, 100, is still capable of having a roll up at the Cashmere Bowling Club in Christchurch.