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100 Year Old 'Viv' Celebrates Birthday here at BCLM

Viv at BCLM 100 year birthday

04 February 2017

Today we welcomed a very special guest indeed on his birthday weekend – 100 year old veteran James “Vivian” Wollason (or just ‘Viv’, as he’s affectionately known by his family!)

Viv was born right here in Tipton, down the road from the Museum, but we were surprised to learn he had never visited! Although the Museum doesn’t usually cater for birthday parties, when his daughter Judy Hughes called up and explained we felt that such a special birthday warranted special measures.

We arranged costume characters to chauffeur him in a 100 year old Black Country-made car, and even surprised him with cake, balloons, fish and chips and a hearty chorus of ‘happy birthday’ in the Bottle & Glass Inn. Even Gary Rhodes of the British Army (Royal Yeomanry, B Squadron, Dudley) paid a special visit to congratulate him on his centenary, and to personally thank him. 

Viv has had a fascinating life, and has plenty of stories to tell. He fought in WW2 in the 29th Armoured Division where he worked as a Tank Engineer. He was called up at 23, and was 29 by the time the war was over. He then worked in offices in Horsley Bridge and had an assistant typist shortly after, who would later become his wife of 55 years.

Viv said: “today has nearly brought tears to my eyes. It’s very kind. Some have asked me what ‘my secret is’ and to that I say this: good food, good wife and everything in moderation. That is what I tell everybody. I still keep active, I live independently and I enjoy cooking and gardening so the truth is I don’t feel old at all!”

Viv was born on 5 Feb 1917 and added that he “was born in the first world war, fought in the second but won’t bother with another!” He received his telegram from the Queen on 4 Feb and looks forward to another planned birthday party on 5 Feb where he will join his extended family to celebrate.

Happy birthday to Viv from all of us here at the Museum, it was a pleasure to welcome you here finally!

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