BIRTHDAY BOY: Rupert Cliff celebrated his 107th birthday with family and friends at Brothers Leagues Club.
BIRTHDAY BOY: Rupert Cliff celebrated his 107th birthday with family and friends at Brothers Leagues Club. Rob Williams

Ipswich's oldest man celebrates his 107th birthday

THE secret to longevity is somewhere to be found in the Cliff household.

Denmark Hill man Rupert Cliff is Ipswich's oldest man, celebrating his 107th birthday this week.

Mr Cliff says the secret is to "eat your porridge in the morning" and "don't smoke!"

Keeping active seems to have a lot to do with it too.

Mr Cliff lives in a granny flat behind his grandson's house and still prepares his own meals.

He cared for his wife until the age of 100 and is still very independent.

Born on May 12, 1909, in Burton-on-Trent, England, Mr Cliff lived in Birmingham most of his life.

He has lived through two world wars and depression, and survived the horrors of the Birmingham Blitz, the heavy bombings on the key industrial and manufacturing city.

Asked what moment in history stood out as he looked back, it was the words of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain declaring war on Germany.

It changed everything. His father went to war in the War to End All Wars and Mr Cliff held an important job as a sheet metal worker. He had taken an apprenticeship at age 14 and later worked on motor engineering and was a research engineer.

One of his projects was working on an early prototype of the television in the 1930s.

Mr Cliff was quickly recruited into the war efforts and worked on projects involving the Spitfire and the Hurricane aircraft and lighter bombers.

"I worked at a factory and I could read blue print," he said, referring to his skills interpreting technical drawings. "The War Department blue prints - my job was to read them and interpret what we were going to make."

One of the vivid memories of those days was his work as a Night Warden and the blackout.

"You couldn't have lights on at night without covering the windows," he said. "My job was to go around and tell people if you could see glints of light in their window."

Mr Cliff was treated to lunch with family and friends at Brothers Leagues Club on Thursday. The club shouted his lunch. Offered anything on the menu, he went for good old British fare; meat pie and chips. Besides the birthday cake, he was also treated to his traditional nip of Scotch - straight - no ice or water.

His carer Mary Hopf from Ozcare said Mr Cliff was popular with everyone.

"He is a lovely, charming, gentleman, a gentle man," she said.

Mrs Hopf said he was also very independent.

"He is an absolute delight. He is quite a story-teller. To hear some of the stories he comes out with, it is a real privilege."