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109-year-old honoured by church for lifetime of service

Alfred Smith, from St Madoes in Perth and Kinross, has been a member of the Church of Scotland since 1945.

One of the UK’s oldest men has been honoured with a “lifetime of service” award from the church he has been a member of for more than 70 years.

Alfred Smith, 109, has been a member of the Church of Scotland since 1945 and an elder since 1967.

The centenarian, from the village of St Madoes in Perth and Kinross, shares his age and birth date with Bob Weighton, of Alton in Hampshire, as well as with one of the country’s oldest women, Joan Eileen Hocquard of Bournemouth.

Rt Rev Russell Barr, Moderator of the General Assembly, visited Mr Smith at home to present the award on behalf of the Kirk.

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Rt Rev Russell Barr and Alfred Smith, 109, who has been a member of the Church of Scotland since 1945 (Church of Scotland/PA Wire)

He said: “Of all the many people I have met during my year as Moderator, Alfred Smith is one of the most remarkable. At 109 years old he retains a lively sense of humour, a continuing interest in life, including the life of the church, and he is a great storyteller.”

Mr Smith was a member of the Free Church in Invergowrie until 1945 and then became a member of the Church of Scotland, attending Kinfauns Parish Church, which later joined with Kilspindie and St Madoes.

He said: “It is just wonderful to have a visit from the Moderator. How he finds time to see me is quite something. I have always loved the church as it has given me so much over the years.”

Asked for his secret to a long and happy life, the former farmer said: “Porridge is helpful and having a job you enjoy.”

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Mr Smith credits porridge for his longevity (PA)

Mr Smith was born in Invergowrie in 1908, the fifth of six sons of John and Jessie Smith. He was educated at Invergowrie Primary School and Harris Academy, Dundee.

He emigrated to Canada, along with four of his brothers, in 1927 but returned after five years and went on to drive lorries for his brother George.

During the Second World War, he was in the Home Guard, and married Isobel when he was 29. The couple went on to farm at Kinfauns where they raised two children, Irene and Allan. Mrs Smith died almost 14 years ago, aged 97.

Marc Bircham, minister of St Madoes and Kinfauns Parish Church, said: “It has been a great joy and privilege to be Alf’s minister and friend.

“He is a blessing to our congregation and community and on a personal level he has been a great encourager to myself, not least by referring to me as ‘young man’.”

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