The family of Dr. Geoffrey Radford MBChB were delighted to celebrate his 100th birthday with him recently, together with fellow residents, staff and volunteers at Jewish Care’s Lady Sarah Cohen House in Friern Barnet. Geoffrey’s son Neill flew over from America to mark his centenary year with the centenarian’s daughter Jill, who lives in London, at a celebratory tea. Four generations of the family enjoyed seeing Deputy Lieutenant for the Queen in the London Borough of Barnet, Martin Russell present Dr Radford with a card from Her Majesty The Queen to congratulate him on his milestone birthday.
Born in Booysens, South Africa to mother Bertha and father Mackie at the Radford family home on 30 January 1918, Geoffrey moved with his family to Kenya as a young child where his father owned a gold mine. Returning to South Africa he attended Bishops High School in Cape Town. Geoff was a gifted artist and won a scholarship to be an architect though he changed course attending medical school at the University of Cape Town and graduated with his MBChB. He completed a housemanship in Uitenhage and then moved to Johannesburg to open his practice as a General Practitioner.
At the party, Geoffrey’s son, Neill, wrote a speech, paying tribute to his dedication and expertise, throughout his 50 year career in his practice. “Geoffrey was a true community centered family doctor who did home calls, delivered babies, undertook minor surgery and was an outstanding diagnostician. For many years he operated his surgery out of the family home. He was a compassionate, knowledgeable, hardworking doctor and very much loved by his patients.”
In 1961, Geoff married Grace Graff whose husband Monty had died a few years earlier. In 1967 he adopted her 4 children, Adrian, Neill, Jill and Steven, who say, “Geoff is a wonderful father, loving, kind, generous and exemplifies the saying that being a father is not begetting children but raising them. He is loved by us all and we were honored to take on his name, thus becoming the Graff-Radfords.”
Geoffrey retired in 1991 and he and Grace moved to London to be close to their daughter Jill and to Grace’s brother Ernie. When Geoff was in his 90’s and Grace in her 80’s they travelled to the United States many times to visit their three sons’ families and celebrate bar and bat mitzvahs and later, weddings of their grandchildren and births of their great grandchildren.
After a very happy marriage, Grace passed away suddenly at 90 and Geoffrey became ill, going into hospital before making a recovery and moving to Jewish Care’s Lady Sarah Cohen home where he has lived for the last four years. He enjoys regular visits from devoted daughter Jill and her husband John along with visits from his grandchildren Keith and Lisa and their spouses Karen and Gary, and his five great grandchildren and amazing dedicated friend Bernice.
Jill said, “The staff at the Lady Sarah Cohen home have treated him in an outstanding manner with respect and kindness. Everyone was so impressed to know that until four years ago he did 100 sit ups a day, even though he is living with dementia now, he is physically very strong. The staff always say that he is such a gentleman.
“It’s so important to celebrate this incredible milestone and reaching 100 is very special, it was lovely to have grandchildren and great grandchildren, family, friends and residents at the party.
“Geoffrey continues to inspire us all, my son dedicated his doctorate in honour of my father, my three brothers also became doctors and I became a sculptor. When Geoffrey retired he took sculpting up again in London and carried on and it was wonderful to do that together. He is an example to us all, a true inspiration.”