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A life well lived at 101

Bield tenant Pat Mills celebrates his 101st birthday and shares the secret of his long life.

 

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More than a century’s worth of wisdom and experience has been imparted to the friends and family of a Kirriemuir tenant who recently celebrated his 101st birthday.

Pat Mills, who now lives at Bield’s Kirkton Court, has had a long and full life that reads like a work of fiction.

Born in Salisbury, the capital of Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Pat was delivered by Dr Godfrey Huggins, who would later become Southern Rhodesia’s Prime Minister in 1933, and, subsequently, the first prime minister of the short lived Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

As a young boy, Pat was a boarding pupil at Plumtree School, 400 miles away from his home at Redlands Farm, Bindura. He then transferred to the well-known Prince Edward School in Salisbury, before being taken out of school at the age of 15 to work on the family farm.

When war broke out in 1939, Pat volunteered to join the military forces. Pat was initially taken into the Rhodesian Army, and after basic training was transferred to Southern Rhodesian Air Force where he was trained as an armourer.

Pat said: “I was posted to 237 (Rhodesia) Squadron RAF. Also serving in the squadron was the young Pilot Officer Ian Douglas Smith, who was one of the squadron’s fighter pilots. He went on to be the Prime Minister who declared Rhodesia’s independence from Britain in 1965.

“After the war, I returned to Rhodesia where I trained at the Forestry Department Training School. I was then sent to work at a number of forestry stations around the country but mainly in the mountainous eastern border areas of the country.”

It was while playing tennis at the local club in Melsetter in the foothills of the Chimanimani Mountains that Pat met his future wife and love of his life, Betty Ferguson.

Betty, who worked as a teacher, and Pat went on to marry in Kirriemuir, Angus, where her parents lived. After their honeymoon in Scotland, Pat and Betty returned to Rhodesia and settled down to life in the forest. During the 1960s and 1970s, Rhodesia experienced severe political problems, and an insurgency took place which particularly affected rural areas, including the forest areas where Pat and Betty lived and worked.

Pat and Betty moved to South Africa in 1990 after their daughter married and settled on the beautiful Natal south coast. Several years later, they decided to return to Scotland and eventually set up home at Bield’s Kirkton Court in Kirriemuir.

Morna McLaren, Retirement Housing Manager at Bield’s Kirkton Court, said: “When Pat and Betty moved back to Kirriemuir, they were after security and a place with friendships at hand.

“It is never a dull moment listening to Pat’s wartime escapades – he has lived a colourful life packed with adventure.”

After such a long and happy life, Pat’s advice to anyone who wishes to join him as a centenarian is simple.

He said: “Live a hardworking, simple life and enjoy everything in moderation.”

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