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