Chelsea Pensioner Celebrates his Centenary in Style

9th August 2019

The Royal Hospital celebrated a rather special birthday today and welcomed the Revd Richard Coles to join in with the party atmosphere.  

Richard Coles visirs George Parsons on his 100th Birthday
As he reaches the ripe old age of 100, former World War II commando George Parsons, who recieved a birthday card from HM The Queen today, reflects on his long life and shares his tips for active ageing.

I like to live life to the full. I’ve been through two world wars, I’ve travelled the world – I’ve lived an interesting life. My childhood was pretty tough – we were all very poor. But it was good training I suppose.

I always liked a challenge. When I was in action, I’d get a sense of exhilaration rather than being scared. As a commando I had to stay fit. I’d always get worried if I wasn’t as fit as I could be! I loved cross-country running and things like that. I packed in the gym recently but I still get out and about on my mobility scooter – I can anywhere on that scooter! 

“I’m greedy – I want to do it all!”

It’s important to keep your mind active too. I was always an avid reader and I still try to keep up with the news. I’ve got a great love for opera and ballet, which I think is the greatest art form. Otherwise, I’ve just tried to live an interesting life. I look for anything and everything to enjoy.

I like to be doing things, to see big events and participate in them. I keep myself busy here. We do singing, which I enjoy and I like the animals – the Battersea dogs come to visit and when they were hatching ducklings in the Infirmary I’d got to the hatching station – I fell in love with my ducks! And I get companionship here too. Every day left now is for my own enjoyment. What I’d really like to do next is a tandem parachute jump. I’m greedy – I want to do it all!

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Brompton Cemetery Seed Sowing
Sowing wildflowers in memory of past Chelsea Pensioners

On 6 May, Chelsea Pensioners and members of the Royal Hospital’s grounds team joined representatives from the Royal Parks, the Royal Parks Guild and the Friends of Brompton Cemetery to sow a patch of wildflower seeds in Brompton Cemetery as part of the Battlefields and Butterflies initiative.

Chelsea Pensioner Centenarians
100 years old and still going strong

Recent research backs up the anecdote that Chelsea Pensioners not only live considerably longer than their peers outside (by over five years, on average), but that their lifetimes once they come to the Royal Hospital are extending, year on year. This strongly suggests that the care and community here contribute to greater longevity – as well as improving quality of life. 

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