It’s 100 not out for jolly Jack Rhodes of Bispham

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He has been a friendly welcomer at Blackpool Victoria Hospital and a programme seller at the Grand Theatre – now Jack Rhodes has celebrated his 100th birthday.

 

Jack, of Wolverton Avenue, Bispham, enjoyed the birthday milestone with his family on Friday, November 5.

The retired grocer has lived in the Blackpool area since 1988 and says he loves being by the sea.

Jack, who lives with daughter Barbara and is often described as being jolly, says: “I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, especially as my family is here.”

Jack Rhodes celebrates his 100th birthday at home in Bispham

Jack Rhodes celebrates his 100th birthday at home in Bispham

He was born in 1921 in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, where his parents ran a local pub and as soon as he was old enough, he’d be collecting glasses and wiping down tables.

As a youngster he enjoyed scooting off to the local roller skating rink, a popular meeting place, just along the road in Batley.

Whilst at secondary school, Jack was awarded a two year scholarship to attend the local School of Arts and Crafts – quite an achievement at the age of 15 in 1936.

Jack Rhodes at home on his birthday

Jack Rhodes at home on his birthday

He was a talented artist, but his speciality was signage printing – a great asset in the early days of his grocery career.

Following a stint in a local garage, Jack was desperate to sign up, much to his mother’s dismay, and in November 1939, at the age of 18, he joined the RAF.

After initial training as an Armourer with 252 Squadron, he then spent four years abroad in the Middle East stationed at Edku, a desert base, just outside Cairo in Egypt.

His role was maintaining – in tip top condition – the shells and ammunition for the Beaufighter planes prior to loading them at a moment’s notice.

Having become involved with the squadron’s concert party, he and another airman, Percy Nicholas, formed a comedy duo – Nicholls and Rhodes.

Jack played the stooge – very reminiscent of Morecambe and Wise.

They performed in local shows on the base and enjoyed a three month stint at the Fleet Club in Alexandria where Wing Commander Sholto Douglas announced,

after watching one evening, that it was the best entertainment he’d seen for a long time!

Once demobbed, Jack entered the grocery trade, working for a local firm – Lodges of Huddersfield, before joining Wm Morrisons Supermarkets in 1970.

He quickly became a general manager, set up and opened two of their stores, before moving into personnel and latterly becoming their pensions officer

prior to retirement at 65.

Jack had met and married Ann in 1947, and together they raised their only daughter Barbara.

Sadly, Ann passed away in 1986, but had the pleasure of seeing her granddaughter Geraldine who’d been born in 1985.

In 1988, Jack moved with Barbara, Alex (her late husband) and Geraldine to live in Bispham, Blackpool.

He very quickly got involved with voluntary activities in the town, ranging from welcomer at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, programme seller at the Grand Theatre and various stints in

charity shops, together with supporting the family over the years in local drama groups.

Jack said: “It has been an absolute blessing for me to have seen Geraldine grow up, as well as my two great grandchildren – Ellie and Jessica.

“I credit my mum’s Yorkshire puddings for living so long, being as well as being cared for by my family in the best place to live – Blackpool by the Sea!”