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Retired Eye Surgeon John Is Focus Of Attention On 100th Birthday

A retired eye surgeon saw every reason to celebrate as he reached his 100th birthday at a Dorset care home.

John Whitwell was the centre of attention at Colten Care’s Bourne View in Poole, welcoming the town’s Mayor and even receiving a Happy Birthday greeting on national television.

When John was born in 1923, commercial air travel was in its infancy, Bonar Law was Prime Minister, Wembley had just staged its first FA Cup Final and the BBC was less than a year old.

One hundred years on, John hosted his landmark centenary party in the Charleston Lounge of art-deco-themed Bourne View where guests included his daughters Penny Hill and Kathy Thomson.

Penny said: “Dad arrived at Bourne View in the summer of 2021 for a few weeks of physiotherapy. He had been discharged from Poole Hospital after breaking his leg and he has been here ever since. He decided after three weeks that he didn’t want to go home.”

Also attending the party was the Mayor of Poole, Councillor Tony Trent, who presented John with a birthday card from King Charles III and Queen Camilla.

John was also the recipient of a nationally broadcast greeting courtesy of an interview aired on BBC Breakfast with Entertainment Correspondent Colin Paterson.

As part of the broadcaster’s Eurovision coverage, Colin was at the home filming residents enjoying a session with professional musician and Companionship Team member Nicky Stevens.

Better known as a member of the 1976 Eurovision-winning group Brotherhood of Man, Nicky has been working with Colten Care for the past two and a half years.

After playing residents a pre-recorded clip of this year’s UK entry, Colin discovered that John’s birthday coincided with Eurovision weekend.
Wishing him Happy Birthday, he asked John if he would be spending his big day watching the competition final, to which John replied: “No, I never have done and seeing this on TV has convinced me even more.”

Asked later how much he enjoyed his celebration, John said: “I loved the party and had a great time being the centre of attention. Everyone made it such a happy occasion and the attendance of the Mayor was the icing on the cake.”

Corinne Wareham who, like Nicky, is a member of the Bourne View Companionship Team, said: “John’s family usually have a small affair to celebrate birthdays but as it was his very special 100th birthday I asked Penny and Kathy if they would like any help. To reach 100 years old is a big achievement especially for a gentleman. We had a fantastic day with many of Bourne View’s residents wanting to celebrate with him. Well done to John for reaching such a great age.”

John grew up in Leicester where his father was a headmaster and his mother was an English teacher.

He attended Wyggeston Grammar School where fellow pupils included the soon-to-be famous Attenborough brothers David and John’s classmate Richard.

After school, John went to Kings College London to train as a doctor and to Moorfields Eye Hospital.

He did his National Service as a doctor in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, and later headed the team of ophthalmologists at Poole Hospital and the old Westbourne Eye Hospital in Dorset.

He holds the titles of MS, standing for Master of Surgery, and FRCS, Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons.

 

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