Headmaster’s Notes: Making a success of old age

21st January 22

This week the world’s oldest man, Saturnino de la Fuente García from Spain, died at the age of 112 and 341 days. We learned that he enjoyed a quiet life with his wife Antonina, whom he married in 1933. Mr García is survived by his seven daughters, 14 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren. Standing at just 4.92 feet tall, he was not able to enlist in the 1936 Spanish Civil War and instead opened up a growing shoemaking business during the war instead, fashioning boots for the army.

Closer to our shores, what encouraging news we heard this week that the UK is looking like one of the first countries in the world to be moving away from a pandemic and closer to an endemic stage of the virus. The last two years have clearly had an impact upon trends in life expectancy but statisticians anticipate these figures will quickly recover.

The International Database on Longevity tracks supercentenarians – those who live to at least the age of 110 – from 13 countries including the UK and has provided much inspiration for our Vision 100 here at Prince’s Mead, an educational strategy that makes the assumption that our children will live to at least 100 years of age.

If all our children live to the ripe age of Mr García, such an outcome will have profound societal implications. The established pathway of education, followed by working lives and then retirement is already beginning to collapse, with final-salary pensions disappearing and multiple careers far more common. At Prince’s Mead we are more committed than ever to ensuring our children are prepared not just for their next senior school entrance examination but well beyond, with the impact upon required skills, relationships, finances, recreation and much more to help ensure they are equipped for a fulfilling and an inspiring 100-year multi-stage life. The oldest person ever was Jeanne Calment, a French woman who died in 1997 at the age of 122. Whilst we won’t be there to witness the full length of our children’s lives, we can be reassured of the foundations that we are putting in place right now that will place them in the best possible stead for an age of longevity.
Mr Peter Thacker