Retired Ford Dagenham worker celebrates 100th birthday

John Howcutt birthday party

John Howcutt surrounded by family and friends as he celebrates his 100th birthday at home in Dagenham. - Credit: Irene Howcutt

A retired Ford worker who loved ballroom dancing has celebrated his 100th birthday with his family.

John  Howcutt reaches the milestone tomorrow (Tuesday, September 7) but enjoyed cake, celebrations and a disco at his home in Dagenham last Friday.

His youngest daughter Irene said reaching 100 meant everything to the family.

In praise of her centenarian dad, she added: "He's a lovely man. He would do anything for anyone and literally still does."

John in Burma

John was stationed in Burma during the Second World War. - Credit: Courtesy of Irene Howcutt

Born in 1921 in Bromley-by-Bow, John saw active service in Burma during the Second World War and later spent 30 years working at Ford in Dagenham.

In 1951, John married Winifred, with whom he spent the next 64 years, raising children Valerie, Raymond and Irene.

The family moved to Rush Green from Plaistow in 1957,  and John would travel to Ford's factory where he worked on the tractors.

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"He loved it there," Irene said.

John and Winifred Howcutt

John and wife Winifred who enjoyed ballroom dancing together. - Credit: Courtesy of Irene Howcutt

An active man, John took up ballroom dancing with Winifred and went on to win medals in competitions around the country.

Irene recalled having to stand in for her mum or dad during their practice sessions at home.

As well as enjoying stepping out on the dance floor, John was keen on rifle shooting, gardening and sea fishing.

He was also fond of holidays with family to the south coast and travels as far away as New Zealand.

After hanging up his dancing shoes, the great-grandfather took up bowls, becoming a member of a club in Goodmayes.

On the secret to John's long life, Irene said: "Dad was always on the go. It's hard to keep him still even now. Being so active has kept him fit."

She explained how even now at the care home where he lives, John offers to wash up and dust.

"He always used to do overtime at work if they needed him. He would always help people out," Irene said.

John is adored by his three children, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

"His family absolutely love him," Irene said.

And according to Irene, the 100-year-old has always loved living in Dagenham, which he has called home for more than 70 years.