UNFORGETTABLE: Joffre Bell and wife Rhyl celebrate his 100th birthday by the kerbside with the entire community of Clifton. Picture courtesy Anne Glasheen
UNFORGETTABLE: Joffre Bell and wife Rhyl celebrate his 100th birthday by the kerbside with the entire community of Clifton. Picture courtesy Anne Glasheen

Birthday drive-by makes centenarian’s day

JOFFRE Bell said he didn't want presents for his 100th birthday, just "presence", and he got that in abundance from the people of Clifton.

"I don't know how to pay everyone back for their attention and the respect they gave me," Joffre said.

"I thought the RSL might have three to four cars driving past, but the whole community came out!

"I don't think I'll ever get over it."

Joffre and his wife Rhyl sat waving at their property entrance with the 100th birthday balloons flying as pipers played, and a soldier on horseback carrying the Australian flag rode by.

A procession of local cars followed, flying their own balloons, some adorned with signs, drivers bipping their horns in salute and calling out 'happy birthday'.

It was a wonderful carnival atmosphere, completed by presentation of Joffre's birthday card from the queen by Condamine MP Pat Weir, birthday cake, and of course singing of Happy Birthday.

"I'm overwhelmed," Joffre said, as he wiped his eyes.

A couple of weeks after the big day, Joffre said cards were still coming in - his only worry, he laughed, was getting writer's cramp replying to them all.

"Had there not been the virus and lockdown it would have been quite different," Joffre acknowledged of his big day on April 27.

However, he said it could hardly have been better, except for having missed out on seeing family from "down south".

It's just another chapter in the life of Clifton's oldest resident - born in the town his grandfather came to in 1900.

Joffre went off to serve in Bomber Command in the Second World War but returned to the town he loves to play an ongoing major part in the community.

As for the future, apart from just having had his driver's licence renewed for another two years, Joffre said he was "on for the next 100 now".


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