A “true gentleman” celebrated his 100th birthday today at Courtlands Village in North Parramatta surrounded by family and fellow village residents.
Ted Annabel, who still lives independently in the retirement village, cut a cake that paid tribute to his passion for cricket, and reflected on his life over the past century.
He was born in 1918 as a “war baby”, and grew up around St Peters in Sydney. He was one of the first young men to be called up to the army at the start of WWII where he guarded the coast from Newcastle down to Port Kembla. However, he was pulled out awhile later as his skills as a boot-maker were desperately needed to keep the soldiers well-shod.
“Not long after that was Pearl Harbour, and the Americans came, and got all their stuff made here,” Ted said.
“We made 400 pairs of American boots a day, and that’s beside the army shoes, navy shoes and air force shoes. Then to make a few civilian shoes, instead of knocking off at the right time we used to have to work back an hour.”
After the war he saw the writing on the wall with his trade, as so many shoes being imported from overseas, so he took on management of a sheet metal factory. He then swapped jobs a final time and became a retail salesman for hardware.
He has always been passionate about cricket, and about roses, and is a honorary life member of the Rose Society of NSW.
While Ted has witnessed many changes over his 100 years, he says many of the issues facing young people today were the same as he faced in the early years of his life.
“People are all crying now that they can’t afford to buy a houses and all that. We couldn’t either, but we did, and that was the best move we ever made,” he said.
Ted and his wife had one daughter, Pamela, and now has three grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
He jokingly attributes his longevity to his diet.
“I eat what I like and don’t eat what I don’t like,” Ted said.
“I’ve always got something in the fridge I can make a meal of, and when it’s a nice day and not a cold wind I go down to the fish shop. I don’t eat chips – I have a scallop instead.”
Fellow resident Dorothy Green said the Village was proud to have had Ted as a resident for the last 14 years.
“He is a true gentleman. He has such a positive approach to life. His interest in every day affairs is just amazing, and you never hear him complain,” she said.
“He’s been introduced to not one member of royalty, but several members of royalty, he’s been invited overseas for his Rose Society work, and he has a great interest in cricket.
“But more importantly than all those things, is that he’s just a genuine, good human being, and we’re all very proud to have him living here at this village,” Dorothy said.