Richard's recipe for longevity

25 Nov 2020

Richard Harding’s (4455) young border collie is sitting patiently at his feet, giving his 98-year-old master a steady stare that means it’s time for a quick walk followed by dinner.

Twice daily Richard takes the young Toby for a walk.

“He needs me, and I need him.”

Living in Greytown for the past 50 or more years, Richard is believed to be the eldest Old Boy of Christ’s College, where he started in 1934. He recently attended the Old Boys’ lunch in Christchurch, travelling south to one of his nephews.

We asked Richard what advice he would give to our students today if he was talking at Assembly.

“I do think smiling is a big, big plus. I meet a lot of people and the older I get, the more I realise that I should have smiled more when I was younger. It sounds silly but being friendly is very important for young people. You break the ice straight away.”

Such a philosophy is clearly a recipe for longevity. Richard still lives by himself – on a hectare of land – drives, does his own shopping and takes a lively interest in his family and world politics.

“I’m still very interested in world politics, not so much local though. I hope to hell Trump gets dumped but I’m not holding my breath – I don’t think that other chap (Joe Biden) is up to much.”

The son of UK immigrants, Richard returned to England to serve in the Royal New Zealand Navy during World War II. He met his wife there and after the war, the pair returned to New Zealand, first to Wellington before settling in Greytown where they had a large apple orchard. He was even Mayor of Greytown at one stage.

Richard was married to Gabrielle for more than seven decades before she died about three and a half years ago. They had a daughter, Caroline, who sadly passed away in her 40s and a son, John, who Richard still sees regularly. He also has seven grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren, one of whom he’s spending Christmas with, in Matakana.

On 27 December, he’ll celebrate his 99th birthday and is looking forward to his 100-year-milestone.

“I have had a lovely life. I am very lucky.”