John marks a century

Family and friends from around the world gather for the John McLeish''s milestone birthday.

By Brendan Rees

 At 100 years-old John McLeish walks about a kilometre a day and prides himself without the need to take any medication.

The Cranbourne East resident celebrated his 100th birthday with a wealth of family and friends at his residence at Blue Hills Rise Lifestyle Village on Sunday 13 October.

About 100 people gathered for the milestone occasion including nieces and nephews from Scotland, his wife’s brother from Michigan in the United States, and family from England.

John and his wife Rebecca migrated to Australia in 1951 with their three sons Neil, Gordon and Gerard and added two Aussie sons Ian and Alistair soon after.

He served in the Seaforth Highlanders Regiment during the war and was not only a personal trainer instructor but an accomplished boxing champion of the regiment.

After spending time at the Ballarat Migrant Hostel he moved to Yarraville and helped in the construction of the Mobil Oil Refinery in Altona. Rebecca worked with him as the site’s accountant.

Having served his apprenticeship as a coach painter and sign writer and later a painter and decorator in Glasgow, he found his paint industry knowledge invaluable in getting work as a painting company architects rep and several other sales roles in the paint industry.

He later fulfilled a long-time dream of owning his own hotel and was able to secure the license of The Mayfair Hotel at the top of Elizabeth Street. Then an offer too good to refuse came from Courage Brewery to manage and run their flagship hotel The Torquay Hotel.

The local community took instantly to their new hosts and were totally devastated and saddened when Rebecca suddenly became ill on New Year’s Eve and sadly died.

John found this too daunting a task handling such a huge workload without his Rebecca, the love of his life. He moved to a quieter region by securing the license to the Drysdale Hotel on the Bellarine Peninsula.

John’s son Gordon said he regularly walks around a kilometre a day without an aid but has recently admitted that one of those “wheely walker thingamies with the wee seat” might come in handy soon.

“He is a true character who would talk the leg off a chair and sounds remarkably like his fellow Scotsman Sean Connery,” Gordon says.

John received congratulatory cards and messages from the Queen, the Governor General of Australia, the Prime Minister Scott Morrison and LaTrobe MP Jason Wood.


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