He had plenty of time to decide what he wanted for his 100th birthday so there was no doubt in Rev Albert Ball’s mind, writes Jo Davison.
Along with a card from The Queen, and a party with friends and every generation of his family, the centenarian wanted... an iPad.
“I’m all for technology. These things are modern miracles – invented by God, of course,” said the former Methodist minister.
“I am already using it to FaceTime my son David, who lives in France and to watch Tv programmes I’ve missed .”
His older son Chris, 60, said his dad had originally asked for an iPhone 5.
“Dad likes to keep up with the times,” he said. “He’s great at emailing too. But eventually he decided the iPad would be more useful.”
A Methodist minister for 37 years, great grandfather Albert was born in 1913, and still lives independently in Broomhill, Sheffield.
“That’s what he wants to do. He is an incredible man,” said Chris.
Albert, a published author with five books to his name, still enjoys writing.
Two years ago, via the internet, he managed to track down and buy the last remaining copy of his only novel, The Closing Of The Gate.
To his amazement, it was in the USA.
He has only recently stopped painting the elegant watercolours he has created almost all his life, having mastered the skill in Staffordshire in his youth as a tile draughtsman – his profession before becoming a minister.
The church took him around the country and to the Far East in 1945 as chaplain to the British troops.
While in Derbyshire he met his actress wife, Dorothy, who died 13 years ago.
He ministered in Sheffield during the 1960s for the Endcliffe, Carver Street and Ecclesall circuits.
Albert’s tips for longevity do not run to a medicinal tot of brandy.
“I’m teetotal,” he said. “The only time I tried alcohol was on VE Day in the officers’ mess in India.
“We toasted Churchill with a whisky. I didn’t like it and I have never had it since.”
His advice for a long and healthy life, then?
“Keep moving, keep breathing, have Christian faith... and drink Carnation milk in your tea.”