Century plan: 'lot of singing' (+video)

By matthew.martin@dailypost.co.nz

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It has been a pretty amazing year for Rotorua's John Henry Bond, who will celebrate 100 years of life this Monday.

In December he and wife Maisey celebrated 75 years of marriage and in April Mr Bond gave the keynote speech, and sang a World War I ballad, at Rotorua's Anzac Day commemorations.

He also re-qualified for his driving licence, without the need for glasses, and remains on no medication.

On Monday, he said as long as he did not do anything silly over the weekend, he'd be celebrating his personal milestone at a not so surprising surprise birthday with family and friends.

Born in Lewisham, London, in 1916, to George Bond - a Boer War and World War I veteran - and Stella Hall, he was the eldest of four brothers.

"Dad came to New Zealand after the Great War due to his wounds on doctor's orders and settled in Auckland.

"I went back to England in 1938 on a scholarship to study opera.

"Just as the war broke out I was appointed as the baritone to the Rio de Janerio Opera. As I was boarding the ship, walking up the gangplank, I heard on the loudspeaker war had been declared.

"I couldn't let my mates down so I turned around and joined the Royal Air Force."

Mr Bond had studied electronics and radio engineering at night school before he won his opera scholarship and the extra education came in handy.

During World War II he was an officer in the Royal Air Force, reaching the rank of squadron leader in the RAF, and was engaged in top-secret work on the new technology of radar.

He said the highlight of his life was returning to England and meeting his wife Maisey.

"I met her at the tennis club. If I had not turned around that day I would never have met her," he said.

John and Maisey had two sons. Just before the war ended he was sent back to New Zealand as the country's director of radar and after the war he designed radios, amplifiers and film projectors.

"But there wasn't much going on in that field really, so I began teaching."

He worked in Papatoetoe, Te Aroha and then Rotorua as head of maths at Lakes High School.

"I've experienced a lot in my life, I have 100 years of memories to forget, which seems to be my only health problem - that I'm getting a bit forgetful.

"Everything from lots of fun and excitment, sadness, fear and everything you have in a long life. But above all Maisey and I have enjoyed life - we have a wonderfully wide circle great of friends as well," he said.

He says he will take Monday as it comes. "One thing we know is that there will be a lot of singing.

"I don't anticipate dropping off suddenly and I'm looking forward to at least a few more years. It's good to reach 100 and still be in command of your brain and limbs."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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