Sidmouth centenarian talks of life in telecommunications

Live life in moderation advises Sidmouth centenarian Joe

“I have all the vices, but in moderation,” said Joe Daniels of Lymebourne Park, Sidmouth, who celebrated his 100th birthday on Sunday.

“The secret to a long life is to enjoy life but don’t excel. I like a scotch, my food and I smoke.”

Looking younger than his 100 years, East Ham-born Joe celebrated over lunch with family and friends at the Blue Ball, Sidford.

Nephew Andy Daniels and wife Sue flew in from South Africa, while nephew Keith and wife Anne came from Spain. Niece Sue Daniels travelled from France for the occasion.

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For more than 50 years, Joe worked in the telecommunications industry for Commercial Cable Company, first as an office boy, then a telegrapher, junior manager and UK sales manager.

He has met the Pope and been involved with breaking major news stories to the world’s press.

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Being in a reserved occupation in 1939, Joe was conscious of “being in mufty” so he became an ARP, Air-raid Precaution Warden, working voluntarily in East London.

“In the invasion in 1940 I joined Dad’s Army, I was a volunteer soldier on guard duty at the premises where I worked.

“I was in the centre of London during the Blitz, when there were incendiary bombs on rooftops. I saw more war in one week than the other four years as a soldier.”

In 1941 he was called up with the Royal Corps of Signals as a telegrapher, and posted to Cable and Wireless, his employers’ opposition in London.

When his company discovered what had happened it complained to the Government about him being seconded from the army to do civilian work and he was put on a boat to Scotland from where he travelled to North and South Africa, the Indian Ocean to Taufiq, Egypt.

“I was in the last desert campaign with Montgomery,” Joe said.

Eventually returning to Scotland he went to Norway and learnt the language, giving him something in common with friend Mandy O’Donnell from Sidbury, who speaks Danish.

She keeps an eye on him at his flat and said: “Joe makes his own jams, pickles and stews, doesn’t take any pills and smokes a pipe.”

Joe retired in 1977. He was married to his second wife, Nancy “a perfect lady” for 25 years until her death in 2008.

Joe founded both Sidmouth and Ottery St Mary Probus Clubs in the 1980s, is a member of Sidmouth branch of the Royal British Legion and life member of the Royal Signals Association.

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