Liverpool-born 111-year-old John Tinniswood now world’s oldest man

Liverpool-born 111-year-old John Alfred Tinniswood is now the world’s oldest living man, following the death of 114-year-old Juan Vicente Pérez from Venezuela.

112-year-old Gisaburo Sonobe from Japan was initially expected to be the new record holder, but he was recently confirmed to have passed away on 31 March.

Born in Liverpool on 26 August 1912 – the same year the Titanic sank – John’s exact age is 111 years 223 days as of 5 April 2024.

John is a great-grandfather and currently resides at a care home in Southport, where staff describe him as “a big chatterbox”.

After confirming him to be the oldest man alive, Guinness World Records Official Adjudicator Megan Bruce travelled to Southport to present John with his certificate and learn more about his long life.

Despite his advanced age, John can still perform most daily tasks independently: he gets out of bed unassisted, listens to the radio to keep up with the news, and still manages his own finances.

According to John, the secret to his longevity is “pure luck”. 

He said: “You either live long or you live short, and you can’t do much about it.”

Beyond eating a portion of battered fish and chips every Friday, John says he doesn’t follow any particular diet: “I eat what they give me and so does everybody else. I don’t have a special diet.”

John Tinniswood and Megan Bruce

John doesn’t smoke and rarely drinks alcohol. His main advice for staying healthy is to practice moderation: “If you drink too much or you eat too much or you walk too much; if you do too much of anything, you’re going to suffer eventually,” he said.

A lifelong Liverpool FC fan, John was born just 20 years after the club was founded in 1892. He has lived through all eight of his club’s FA Cup wins and 17 of their 19 league title wins.

John has also lived through both World Wars; he was 27 when the second one broke out, and despite having eyesight issues, he found purpose by working in an administrative role for the Army Pay Corps. In addition to accounts and auditing, his work involved logistical tasks such as locating stranded soldiers and organizing food supplies. As such, John is the world’s oldest surviving male World War II veteran.

After the war, John worked in accounts for Shell and BP up until his retirement in 1972.

When asked how the world around him has changed throughout his life, John replied: “The world, in its way, is always changing. It’s a sort of ongoing experience. […] It’s getting a little better but not all that much yet. It’s going the right way.

John met his wife, Blodwen, at a dance in Liverpool. One of his fondest memories is of their wedding in 1942, a year before having their daughter, Susan. The couple enjoyed 44 years together before Blodwen passed away in 1986.

John now has four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Since turning 100 in 2012, John received a birthday card each year from the late Queen Elizabeth, who was John’s junior by almost 14 years.

Having become the UK’s oldest man in 2020, John is unfazed by his new-found status as the oldest in the entire world. “Doesn’t make any difference to me,” he said. “Not at all. I accept it for what it is.”

His advice for younger generations is: “Always do the best you can, whether you’re learning something or whether you’re teaching someone.

“Give it all you’ve got. Otherwise it’s not worth bothering with.”

The oldest man ever was Jiroemon Kimura (1897–2013) from Japan, who lived to the age of 116 years 54 days.

The world’s oldest living woman and oldest living person overall is Spain’s Maria Branyas Morera, who recently celebrated her 117th birthday.

Images: Guinness World Records

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