Charlie has 104 reasons he’s an inspiration for his family
Charlie Hanson puts it down to black treacle on his breakfast porridge but staying physically active and enjoying the daily crossword will also have helped him reach the age of 104.
The United Nations is marking International Family Day (#internationalFamilyDay) on 15 May 2018, to recognise the family as a building block of societies around the world.
Charlie’s experience shows it is never too late to pass on stories and insights that inspire younger family members, and shape how they might live their lives for the better.
His grand-daughter is Deborah Sutton, CRM Training and Support Officer at Lanes Group plc, based in Eccles, Greater Manchester.
She says: “Granddad was always a very private person when I was growing up. But in recent years, he’s talked a lot more about his past life, and his early family memories.
“It’s as if he feels the time is right now to open up a bit more about his life and share his experiences. Our children love to hear his stories and ask him lots of questions.”
Charlie was an RAF mechanic during World War Two. He was posted in Egypt, often recovering aircraft that had crashed on the battlefield, and repairing them. He did not return to Britain and his family for three years.
Soon after he was demobbed, he and his wife, Connie, who passed away in 1998, had their only child, Derek, Deborah’s dad.
“I think dad has been pleased that granddad is chatting more, because he’s hearing things he didn’t know. It’s filling in important gaps in the family history,” says Deborah.
Charlie worked as a self-employed window cleaner for 50 years, from the age of 17 – apart from the career break for his military service.
Come rain or shine, through all seasons, he kept the outlook clear for thousands of households throughout Worsley and Winton, in Salford.
Thanks to his hard work and financial acumen he retired in 1983 and continued to play bowls and cycle everywhere on his bike well into his 90s, until his legs “began to wobble”, says Deborah.
She had lived with her mum and dad and two sisters in the same terraced street as her granddad and nana for many years. Charlie and Connie looked after the girls during school holidays while their parents were at work.
But it is only in recent years that Deborah has become much closer to Charlie. Thanks, in part, to his newfound desire to tell family stories. His mind is just as sharp as ever, even though he is nearly blind and hard of hearing.
Deborah says: “It just shows, it’s never too late to appreciate your family and relatives. Emma, my daughter, is especially impressed with granddad’s longevity and past experiences.
“She was born in 1999, so wants to live to at least 101 so she will have lived in three Centuries. She likes walking, but I don’t think she’s quite as physically activity as he was at her age.”
Still family lessons to learn then. There’s always the black treacle.