A decorated war veteran who survived being shot three times during combat has celebrated his 100th birthday at a Sanctuary Care home in Birmingham.
Ralph Cox became a centenarian on Saturday (21 February) and celebrated his milestone birthday with loved ones, the team and fellow residents at The Beeches Residential Care Home, which provides residential care and dementia care in Northfield, where he has lived for over two years.
A keen sportsman who played golf well into his 90s, Ralph puts his secret to reaching such a great age down to: “Being happy, playing plenty of sport and always being fit. Sport has played a big part of my life!”
When asked how he felt about becoming a centenarian he added: “I feel happy and quite contented living life.”
Born in Lozells, Birmingham, Ralph married neighbour and childhood sweetheart Anne. The couple had four children – Jill, Ron, Wendy and Ray. Their eldest Jill was born in 1937. Months after Ron was born the Second World War broke out and the then fireman was called up to serve his country.
Ralph – or Sergeant Cox – was stationed all over Europe with The Parachute Regiment, known as ‘The Red Berets’.
On 12 June 1944 Ralph was badly wounded in North West Europe when he was shot in the back, arm and leg. After he recovered he continued with his service and received six military medals in total, including one which reads 1939-1945 King’s commendation for brave conduct.
After he was demobbed, Ralph started work at Raybone Chesterman in Hockley, a firm which manufactured measuring tapes.
Anne and Ralph also ran two care homes for young children in the city, firstly in Shenley Fields and then in Druids Heath. Many of the children in their care have kept in touch over the years.
Wendy and Jill said: “They were super parents – very kind. He was a very kind father and we were very close growing up – all of us are.”
The couple enjoyed 45 years of happy marriage, before Anne sadly died of cancer in 1982. Jill said her father lovingly cared for Anne, as he did for his second wife Marion, whom he married in 1983 when he was 68 years old. Marion, who had three children Geoff, Terry and Margaret from her first marriage passed away in 2005 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.
One of Ralph’s claims to fame is that he is a dead ringer for Sir Robert ‘Bobby’ Charlton CBE. Jill said when he arrived at The Beeches, everyone thought he looked like the famous English footballer.
Ralph, who has 13 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren was an all-round sportsman and loved football, golf, bowls and competed for several years as a runner with the Birchfield Harriers.
On his greatest life achievements, Ralph, concluded: “It’s simple and close to the heart – getting married and having children will always be the proudest moments of my life.”
Karen Finn, administrator at The Beeches said: “Ralph is a pleasure to be around and shares lots of stories about his long and happy life. His enthusiasm for life and positive thinking is infectious and it was such a pleasure to celebrate this special birthday with him.”