A 104-year-old greyhound enthusiast has revealed his secret to longevity – a bowl of porridge as a midnight snack.
Neil McNeil, a former greyhound breeder from Paisley, was just six months old when the Titanic sank, lived through two world wars and has celebrated the births of four great-grandchildren.
But on October 4, he was the centre of attention as his family threw a milestone birthday party at the care home in Renfrewshire where he now lives.
His daughter, Sheila, said that he has pursued many hobbies throughout his life – but revealed he credits Scott’s Porage Oats and greyhound pups to keeping him so sprightly.
Sheila, 71, said: “I have never known anyone to be such a big fan of porridge – he swears by having a bowl every morning to stay in good health and I’m sure he would have it for every meal if he could.
“He has always made it exactly the same – with just milk – and won’t have it any other way.
“His love for porridge has also been passed down the family generations. I don’t remember ever having anything else for breakfast when I was young, and even the great grandchildren are partial to a bowl or two now and again.”
Neil, who has lived at Bupa’s Elderslie Care Home for two years, regularly requests another bowl as a midnight snack.
Sheila said: “His other passion has always been his greyhounds. He must have bred, raised and raced over 100 throughout the years and used to regularly travel to Ireland to buy or sell the dogs to train or win gold.
“We even went to Shelbourne Park in Dublin for his 90th birthday to watch the races. He really enjoyed it.”
Born in 1911 in Paisley, Neil began his working life at his father’s coal business, before becoming the local bus driver at just 14. Before the outbreak of the Second World War, he moved to London with his brother and joined the Ministry of Defence.
He travelled across England throughout the war, working in a variety of munitions factories. In one such factory, he met Margaret who was working as part of the war effort – and it was love at first sight.
Neil and Margaret were married on New Year’s Eve in 1942, and Margaret gave birth to a daughter, Sheila, in 1944. Neil now boasts three granddaughters and four great grandchildren.
The McNeil’s moved back to Scotland in 1953 and settled in Neil’s birthplace of Paisley, where he began to pursue his interest in furniture making and opened a local furniture shop.
Neil was also particularly passionate about antiques, and his collection attracted an international market, with many of his items sold to America.
A Spokesperson from Scott’s Porage Oats said: “Reaching the incredible age of 104 is a remarkable achievement and all the team here at Scott’s Porage would like to wish Neil McNeil a very happy
Fiona Truesdale, Home Manager at Bupa’s Elderslie care home, said: “Neil is such a lovely resident
to have with us here at the care home and everyone was absolutely delighted to help him celebrate his big day.
“Residents and staff had a fantastic time helping Neil to celebrate with drinks, refreshments and party food.
“We’re all so proud of Neil for reaching this remarkable milestone.”