‘Real gentleman’ Bob is now 107 years old

CENTENARIAN: ‘Everybody thinks the world of him’ - niece

ONE of Suffolk’s oldest residents, described by his nieces as a “real little gentleman of the past”, has celebrated his 107th birthday.

Robert Ling, known as “Bob”, was born in Kelsale, near Saxmundham, in 1903 and spent all of his working life on farms around the county.

He lived for many years at Sunnyside Farm, Laxfield, which was purchased by his father after he retired, but moved to Chilton Court care home in Stowmarket four years ago.

Until he moved out, aged 103, Mr Ling’s farmhouse had no electricity or central heating and he lived a contented life without any television or telephone. However, he would get the East Anglian Daily Times every day.

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His niece Muriel Davies said: “He worked all his life on the land, with horses then tractors, and was quite a good mechanic. He was 11 when the First World War started and him and his mates went to look at the Zeppelin that came down in Theberton in June 1917.

“He’s hardly ever been out of Suffolk. He had two sisters and two brothers and was the second eldest – he took our dad on his first day at school when he was seven. All the brothers were so hard-working.

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“They used to breed Suffolk Punches and the Government came and confiscated all their best horses to pull guns during the war – he knew they would be killed.

“There can’t be many people around who can actually remember that sort of thing going on.”

Mr Ling’s father had been a tenant farmer and he had worked with him from a young age.

During the Second World War Mr Ling was in the Laxfield Home Guard and finally retired in 1968, aged 65.

He had been married to Beatrice for many years before she died in 1989 and the couple never had children.

Mrs Davies, who was at Chilton Court with her sister Barbara to celebrate Mr Ling’s birthday yesterday, added: “He was still living at home when he was 103, entirely independent.

“He had no electricity – he wouldn’t have wanted it, didn’t understand it.

“He lived just as he had lived 70 years ago – he couldn’t understand people watching ‘that box in the corner’.

“He’s a real little gentleman of the past. He treats women with great respect and doesn’t understand that they have to go to work. Everybody thinks the world of him, and we do to.”


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