Even though he may not look it, Ronald Keith Jackson has notched up more than 100 years.
The centenarian celebrated the milestone yesterday and was joined by friends and family today (Thursday 11 March) for a special match of lawn bowls at Hamilton North Bowling Club.
He’s got stories to tell, that most of us couldn’t even fathom.
Ron served in the Middle East and Papua New Guinea during World War II, he’s experienced the rise of technology including colour TV, grew his beautiful family and, now, he is watching the country navigate its way through a pandemic.
He said, despite its challenges, serving in the war was a duty he willingly undertook.
“You never thought of it that way, it was something you had to do,” Ron said.
“It was for the love of country I suppose – and adventure.”
He added his life “didn’t start until [he] got married”.
“That’s when it all came good,” Ron said.
“There’d be plenty of [highlights], my wife was a bit of a party animal and I went with her everywhere.”
The pair was married on 11 October 1947, the day after Jean turned 20 and they have been smitten ever since.
Three children, six grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren later, the loved-up couple lead an incredible family that’s full of happy memories.
“Life’s not worth worrying about unless you enjoy it,” he said.
The avid sportsman is known for taking part in whatever he can – he’s played baseball, cricket, tennis, golf and lawn bowls.
“I’ve played nearly all sports, other than water sports,” he said.
“I enjoyed them all, and I don’t think anyone could have enjoyed it more than me.”
Ron picked up lawn bowls after he started having trouble with his golf swing.
“I’d been playing golf for 30 years and I got arthritis in my shoulder, I couldn’t follow through with my back swing so I thought: ‘oh well, I’ll be fine’,” he said.
“My youngest daughter at the time was working at a bowling club and said I should try bowls.
“So I started bowling when I was 69.”
Ron’s friend and Hamilton North Bowling Club member John Holt says his mate is very competitive.
“He mixes well with everybody and we all like him,” he said.
“Before he started using his walker one of us would take him by the arm and walk with him to the other side.”
John says even when Ron loses a game he’s always in good spirit.
“He always says: ‘I didn’t win the game, but as long as I can come and play, that’s a win’,” he added.
As for Ron, his secret to a long life is pretty straight forward.
“Stay active, it’s essential,” he said.
“I don’t like to stay still, I’d rather be doing something.
“The best piece of advice that I would give everyone is to be yourself, it is easier to be yourself rather than an imposter.”