Why it’s taken Saffron Walden’s George 100 years to turn 25

George Rhodes

George Rhodes - Credit: Archant

Retired judge George Rhodes celebrated his 25th birthday on Monday – though it has taken him 100 years to get there.

Because his birthday is February 29, he can only celebrate it on the exact day once every four years when there is a leap year.

Mr Rhodes, a bachelor who has for the past 20 years lived at Custerson Court in Saffron Walden, was preparing to celebrate with a party for his family and friends.

However just before the big day, he was taken into Addenbrooke’s Hospital with a suspected blood clot. He still had plenty of visitors and good wishes and his card from Her Majesty, the Queen.

Friends even took his birthday cake was taken into the hospital for him but he asked them to take it home for a party when he got back. His family are hoping he will return home this week.

His niece, Sally Howell told The Reporter: “We had a birthday lunch for 20 people on Sunday but sadly Uncle George couldn’t be there. We had to go ahead because people had travelled long distances. His five nephews and nieces and 12 great nephews and nieces all toasted him and took it in turns visiting him throughout the day.”

She added: “He is a fantastic uncle. He has been incredibly generous to all of us. When he gave up driving at 85, he gave his immaculate Ford Fiesta to his great nephew Fred who had just turned 17. He had owned the car for 10 years and there were only 30,000 miles on the clock. “When he handed over the keys he said: “I have never used the radio or the spare tyre.”

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“Fred learned to drive in the car, as did two more nieces and nephews. Slowly the car changed as it acquired loud exhausts, blacked out windows and boom boom music.

Mr Rhodes, who was born in Bowdon in Cheshire, went to Queen’s College, Oxford, where he played football for his college. During the Second World War, he was with the British Expeditionary Force and evacuated from Dunkirk in a French fishng boat. He went on to serve in the Middle East and Italy. After the war, he was called to the bar in Grays Inn in 1947.

Sally said: “He moved to Saffron Walden to be near my parents, his brother Ken and sister-in-law Gemma who in the 1970s owned the shop Hoops, selling clothes, gifts and pottery.

“Custerson Court is organising a party upon his return from hospital with a magnificent cake displaying his medals. He last wore them in November when he walked with his carer Maxine to the Saffron Walden War Memorial for the Remembrance Service.”