Golden moment Age was no hurdle to Ralph
SUGAR, gardening and golf were the secrets to the long life of the county’s oldest resident who has died aged 110.
Ralph Hoare, from Gloucester, loved keeping active and still had time for his hobbies after reaching three figures.
When he told his nurse Rachel Bucknell from the Aspen Centre he was an avid horse racing fan, she arranged a special trip to the Cheltenham Gold Cup last year.
While there, Ralph, who lived through two world wars and saw five monarchs ascend to the throne, enjoyed several winners.
His daughter Kate said: “He was not a big gambler but a persistent one.
“He had three winners and two seconds when we went to the Gold Cup. He would often bet 10p on a race, 50p would be his maximum. My father was a very sensible chap.
“He was thrilled to go to Cheltenham Racecourse that day and kept the badges on his mantelpiece.”
During the visit to The Festival, which he attended with Kate and neighbour David Blackwell, Ralph was filmed by several TV crews as he watched the action from his wheelchair by the winning post.
Wrapped up against the cold, he was delighted to be introduced to young jockey Jack Kennedy, 91 years his junior.
“He liked all sports,” Kate said. “It tailed off a bit in his later years but he used to go all over the place to visit racecourses, including Goodwood and Kempton.
“When he was younger, he played cricket, rugby and athletics. He would keep up with matches on the radio.
“His last words to my brother were: ‘What was the Plymouth Argyle score on Saturday?.’”
Born in Plymouth on July 19 1908, RAF veteran Ralph grew up in Devon and lived in Gloucester for around 60 years.
He was married to his late wife Dorothy for seven decades and they had two children, Kate and Michael.
He had six grandchildren and the same amount of great-grandchildren.
Even after turning 100, Ralph played at Gloucester Golf Club and tended to 200 roses in his Longlevens garden.
“He looked after himself on his own until he was 107,” Kate said. “He enjoyed doing crosswords and playing the piano.
“On the food front he liked anything sweet. He loved Bourbon biscuits, sweetened grapefruit, prunes and Ready Brek with sugar on it.
“He was also keen on tripe and onions, he found it easy to digest.”
Speaking to the Racing Post in 2018, Ralph, who was the UK’S third oldest man, recalled going to see all of Arkle’s Gold Cup victories at Prestbury Park.
He raised a smile when he described how he met his future wife.
“I went to a friend’s house in Wellington and heard someone playing the piano,” he said.
“I opened the door and sitting at the piano was a girl with black hair and a green dress.
“She was very attractive with a nice pair of legs. I thought there and then this was the girl I was going to marry but it took me nine years.”
Ralph did not flag from 8am to 11pm when he visited the racecourse on the busiest day of the year and he was happy to take home winnings of £3.50.
A spokesperson for Cheltenham Racecourse said: “We were delighted to welcome Ralph and his family here to the racecourse - I gather he had a wonderful time.
“Our thoughts are with his family.” Donations for Ralph’s funeral are being accepted for Railway Children, which helps street children overseas.
Kate decided it would be fitting to help the charity as she was in India, one of the countries where its good work is carried out, when he died on January 29.
The service will take place at St Catherine’s Church, London Road, Gloucester, where Ralph was once treasurer, on February 27 at 1pm. [email protected]plc.com
Ralph Hoare at 110 and, right, in the RAF