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September 2, 2014
‘No secret’ to long life, says 100-year-old Thomas

According to St Vincent’s most recent centenarian, the “secret” to longevity isn’t such a secret after all – all you need to do is eat well and have the desire to live long!

Mandeville Joseph Thomas, more affectionately known to relatives and friends alike as Uncle Mandy, celebrated 100 years of life last Friday, August 29, and SEARCHLIGHT was present to toast {{more}}him on this milestone achievement.

When asked about his secret to long life, he replied: “There is no secret. I like to live, so I do. I eat, I drink… I’m quite independent!”

Thomas, who was born to East Indian immigrant parents, grew up on the Argyle Estate and had eight siblings. He began working in the agricultural sector at an early age because his parents died, and he and his siblings had to fend for themselves.

“We had nobody to help us, so we had to work and maintain ourselves,” he recalled.

After spending several years working in Trinidad, he migrated to High Wycombe, England, to work at an engineering company. After 19 years living there, he returned to St Vincent.

Thomas said that although the opportunities to make money are greater in England, he prefers life in St Vincent at this stage of his life because he is “old and helpless” and much prefers the heat to the cold.

“England is a lovely place but [for] one thing, it’s very cold!” he chuckled.

Throughout his life, Thomas said that he worked diligently to become financially stable so that he could build a good life for his wife Mildred Thomas (nee Durrant) and their children.

Although he has been a widower for the past decade, Thomas did not seem to be a lonely man. With six children, 15 grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and a plethora of friends, Thomas said that even though just he and his son Felix Thomas live in the house, he always has company.

“Relatives does come here every week,” he boasted, with a huge grin on his face. “The place never empty.”

Thomas, who lives in Calder, said that neighbours and friends also stop by frequently.

“I know how to talk to people; I never [turn] them away,” he explained. “They come, they sit down, they talk, they go their way.”

On a typical day, the centenarian said that he rises early in the morning, helps his son in the kitchen at meal times, takes a few naps in between, entertains any guests, and watches cricket on the television if it is showing.

A jovial man, Thomas became most animated when talking about his love of cricket and his love of all foods. When asked what his favourite food and drink were, he replied: “Everything I put in my mouth!”

Thomas mentioned a wide variety of foods that he enjoys eating, including breadfruit, rice and peas, chicken, ground provision and callaloo. And his beverage of choice? A hot cup of Milo (fortified drinking chocolate).

Although he is not as strong as he used to be, Thomas said that he still helps out in the kitchen when he can, and makes himself cups of “black water tea”. Physically, he remains in good health – his only ailments being poor eyesight and hearing, and mild rheumatism.

“Other than that, I have no pain at all!” he said proudly.

At his birthday celebration last Friday, several relatives and well-wishers turned up to congratulate him on this uncommon feat – including Susan Dougan, the Governor General’s Deputy and Frederick Stephenson, Minister of National Mobilisation, Social Development, the Family, Persons with Disabilities and Youth.

Also present were Cenio Lewis (SVG High Commissioner in London) and Dr Arnold Thomas, who are both relatives of the centenarian.

Lewis pointed out that Thomas’ life story and experiences should be recorded so that they could be passed on to future generations.

“It’s an experience that our young people need to know about,” he insisted.

“We are happy to see him to 100 and we wish to see many more!”