Scottish Daily Mail

Se­cret to liv­ing to grand old age of 109? Give up smok­ing at 80!

- By Lucy Gray James IV of Scotland · Alfie Boe · Scotland · United Kingdom · Hampshire · Boston University · Dundee · Hollywood · Invergowrie · Govan · Iain Smith · Henry Campbell-Bannerman · Alton · Alton

IT was the year Hol­ly­wood leg­end James Ste­wart was born and Henry Camp­bell Ban­ner­man was still Prime Min­is­ter.

But while two world wars, 19 Prime Min­is­ters and five monar­chs have come and gone, Alf Smith is still thriv­ing.

Scot­land’s old­est man cel­e­brates his 109th birth­day to­day – and cred­its his longevity to eat­ing por­ridge with su­gar and milk ev­ery morn­ing.

He shares the ti­tle of Bri­tain’s old­est man with Bob Weighton, from Al­ton, Hamp­shire, who was born on the same day in 1908.

Un­til last year, Mr Smith lived in­de­pen­dently in St Ma­does, Perthshire.

Af­ter a fall last Au­gust he now lives with his 79-year-old daugh­ter, Irene No­ble, but keeps his mind ac­tive by play­ing Scrabble.

His fac­ul­ties are so im­pres­sive he has been stud­ied by US medics at Bos­ton Univer­sity.

Mrs No­ble said: ‘They con­tact him ev­ery year, take blood, do a mem­ory test, ask him who the Prime Min­is­ter is and he man­aged ab­so­lutely fine.’

She added that steer­ing clear of ar­gu­ments and giv­ing up smok­ing had also helped to keep her fa­ther healthy.

Mrs No­ble said: ‘Dad smoked un­til he was 80, that’s the se­cret to liv­ing to 109.’

Born in In­ver­gowrie, Perthshire, the fifth of six sons, Mr Smith was a pupil at In­ver­gowrie Pri­mary School and Har­ris Academy, Dundee, be­fore leav­ing school at 14.

In 1926 he moved to Canada where he and his el­dest brother ran their own farm. Mrs No­ble said: ‘They went to this place called Go­van, be­cause they thought it sounded Scot­tish. They had drought, hail, ev­ery­thing. The crops were a washout.’

Three years later when his fa­ther died he had to re­turn to Scot­land to help his brother Ge­orge run the fam­ily farm­ing busi­ness.

Mr Smith mar­ried Iso­bel Harper in 1937. She died in 2003 at the age of 97. They had two chil­dren, Mrs No­ble, and her brother Al­lan, who died last year. In ad­di­tion, Mr Smith has grand­chil­dren Neil and Iain Smith.

Re­mark­ably, Iain has fol­lowed in his grand­fa­ther’s foot­steps and moved to Canada and also mar­ried a woman called Iso­bel.

Mrs No­ble said: ‘It’s fas­ci­nat­ing the two old­est men in Bri­tain have the same birth­day. We got a birth­day card from Bob and sent one to him.’

Re­flect­ing on her fa­ther’s life, Mrs No­ble said: ‘He’s al­ways been very con­tented. He thinks he’s had quite a good life.’

 ??  ?? Thriv­ing: Alf Smith, who was born in 1908, and left, with his wife Iso­bel on their wed­ding day in 1937
Thriv­ing: Alf Smith, who was born in 1908, and left, with his wife Iso­bel on their wed­ding day in 1937

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