John Old the oldest Lion in the world?

John Old on his 102nd birthday with fellow Lions Dennis Cummings and Ed Hayhoe

John Old on his 102nd birthday with fellow Lions
Dennis Cummings and Ed Hayhoe

At 102 years old is Lion John Old the oldest Lion in the world? Helensville Lions Club believe he is the oldest Lion in New Zealand and wonder perhaps if he has the world record. Lions Clubs are invited to comment on any lion who might claim the record from him.
John turned 102 on September 9th and is photographed with members of the Helensville Lions Club of which he is a Life Member. John now resides in the Elderly Care wing of the Rawene Hospital where his daughter is in charge. Barely six years ago he was still residing in Helensville and regularly attending Lions meetings.  He had the uncontested role of Greeter.
John has been a Lion member longer that the Helensville Lions have been in existence.
Born in Taranaki his family moved to Taneatua when he was five and that’s where he did his schooling. There at 16 he joined the then Union Bank of Australia later to become the A.N.Z.  With promotions he moved round the country and it was in Te Awamutu he first joined Lions. “ I was the accountant in the bank and they were trying to charter a Lion Club. Someone came to see me and said “How would you like to be in the Lions” I thought he was referring to the Football Team. Anyway I became a charter member. I would doubt if Te Awamutu Lions would still be aware I’m still alive at my age. It was a great club and I enjoyed them very much. I transferred to Gisborne and carried on as a Lion there until in 1967 when I transferred to Helensville as A.N.Z. manager. They had only been going three years and I’d been a Lion for a good while so ended up becoming President, secretary, treasurer and zone chairman over the years”.
Partially blind now John its still mentally alert. He wears his Lions jerkin and has the Helensville Lions Club “Helensvillian” read to him each month.
Always known for his good humour John is famous for smoking five cigars daily for most of his life. “ I’m down to one a day now” he said, “they’re not really keen on you smoking in hospitals and I have to shuffle out to the porch”. At his 102 birthday celebration he was allowed to light up inside the Rawene Hotel. “I don’t think they will prosecute me at 102.”
One of his great one liners is, at the age of 93, while being driven to his Lions meeting he quipped.  ”Well I did something today I should have done donkeys years ago.” What’s that John?  ”I joined the Helensville Library, they’re got those big print books.”

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