Big 100th birthday for Nottinghamshire 'nomad' who settled in Falkirk area

Travelling and moving from place to place was second nature to a navy veteran who spent 20 years of his century on the planet in the Falkirk area.

Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 7:00 am
John William Boot, known as Jack, celebrates his 100th birthday with his tot of brandy - one of the secrets of his long life

John William Boot will celebrate his 100th birthday in his Willow Grange, Redding home and at Polmont’s Claremont Inn today surrounded by family and friends – with some zoom calls coming from Spain and elsewhere to mark his major milestone.

Jack, as he is known, said he was a nomad by nature and the house in Redding was the place he had lived the longest without moving.

A globe trotter during World War II and a well-travelled worker, Jack never stayed in one place too long.

Born on May 26, 1921 he spent his early years in New Ollerton, Nottinghamshire.

"I cycled eight miles to school and eight miles back home – a nice ride through Sherwood Forest.”

And it was in Robin Hood’s old stomping ground where Jack first set eyes on the love of his life – not Maid Marion – but Margaret.

"I was 19 and she was 17,” said Jack.

As it did for many a couple, the Second World War interrupted their romance when Jack found himself called up to the Royal Navy.

Serving aboard HMS Maidstone, leading supply assistant Jack Boot worked hard to keep submarines well stocked.

The most popular man aboard – he handed out the tots of rum – Jack only felt in real danger a few times.

“We had protection from about six destroyers so I felt quite safe. There was that time one of the destroyers got torpedoed though.”

Jack moved from the Mediterranean to Sri Lanka, then known as Ceylon, and finished his war service in the Pacific Ocean, spending VE day in Sydney, Australia.

"It was very strange,” said Jack. “The war with Japan was still going so no one was celebrating.”

A month-long “cruise” followed back home – with a stop over in Inveraray where he waited to be demobbed, sending money down south to allow Margaret to buy an engagement ring.

Upon his return to New Ollerton the couple were married in 1946 and would live and travel together, with stops in Sheffield, Northallerton and Bonnybridge – wherever Jack’s work with British Thomson-Houston (BTH) would take them.

Daughter Elaine came along in 1950 and son Graham arrived in 1952.

Jack retired in 1985 at the age of 64 and the couple eventually moved back to Scotland.

Graham built a house for his parents next to his own in Redding and they enjoyed their life together there until Margaret sadly died at the age of 88, on the eve of their 65th anniversary 10 years ago.

Having survived a world war now Jack has successfully seen off a global pandemic.

"I’ve had a very happy and peaceful life,” said Jack. “I eat healthy – I’m fond of fish and I have a tot of brandy at night. I’ve had my two jags now, but I would say this COVID-19 is worse than the war – at least you knew your enemy back then.”