Well wishers celebrate cumulative birthdays of 212 years

Julia Gilbert and Ian Rodin and families with The Mayor of Redbridge celebrate 212 years.
Julia Gilbert and Ian Rodin and families with The Mayor of Redbridge celebrate 212 years.

On Sunday 25 September, two residents of Jewish Care’s Vi & John Ruben’s House in Redbridge, celebrated a cumulative 212 years. 108 year old Julia Gilbert, the oldest woman in the borough* and 104 year old Ian Rodin one of the oldest men in the borough, were surrounded by well wishers. The Mayor of Redbridge, Councillor Gurdial Bhamra who presented Julie and Ian with a card on behalf of the borough, and relatives, friends, volunteers and staff from the home congratulated them both.


Mary O’Rourke, Manager of Vi & John Rubens said, “It was a pleasure to celebrate with Julia and Ian, two of the oldest people living in Redbridge who both look so much younger than their years.  Julia looks fantastic and will not leave her room in the morning without full make up which she still does herself. Ian is still as passionate about vegetarianism as ever and tries to persuade everyone to follow.”


Julia Gilbert was born on 25th September 1908 in the same year as the first Olympics in London, Julie has lived in the home since she was 104, moving from the sheltered housing next door Vi & John Rubens House where she lived for 20 years.

She was born and grew up in the East End of London and worked as a seamstress until the Second World War, leaving London during the blitz. She was married to Sidney at the age of 23 and they were married for 12 years until he sadly died aged 33 in the final month of the War. Julie moved to Northampton, and then Colchester, before eventually relocating to Stoke Newington, in north east London, and working as a saleswoman in a stationary shop.

Julia and Sidney had two children together, both boys who now live in Australia. Julia has nine grandchildren and several great-grandchildren who she speaks to regularly. After retirement Julie volunteered at Jewish Care’s Stepney Community Centre. She says, “I absolutely loved working with older people and think more people should volunteer and visit people in the homes and community centres.”

Julia’s eldest granddaughter Jackie Rogers, of Banbury, Oxfordshire, was joined on Sunday by Alan Melhado, Julia’s nephew.

Julia says, “I enjoyed the party very much, everything was wonderful and it was lovely to meet the Mayor and receive cards from the local borough and get my 5th card from The Queen.”


When asked her one piece of advice for young people, she says, “To have respect for people of all races and religions.” And her secret for a long life is “hard work”.


Fellow resident and centenarian, Ian Rodin was born in Stepney on 28 September 1912 and has lived in Ilford for most of his life. He has been a resident at Vi & John Ruben’s home since he was 100.


Ian’s father wanted him to join him in his barrel making business so he left school and followed his father into his trade. He was one of the few Jewish coopers, the traditional trades being cabinet makers and tailors. They manufactured barrels which were used at the time to store and transport liquids and foods. He met his wife Sara at an army dance and they were happily married for 62 years. He has a son called Sam, two grandsons, David and Michael and three great grandchildren.


Ian was delighted with his party saying, “I had a good time and it was great to have my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren there. I have been a devoted vegetarian for over 50 years and for me the secret to long life is trying to make the world a better place by not eating meat and fish.  I don’t think it’s necessary I don’t like the idea of taking a life from an animal.”


His advice to young people today is “Be kind to the world, everybody can help to bring about peace. Listen to other people’s point of view and respect it. Everyone of any age should be respected as everyone can contribute something to society.”


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