London's oldest man belly dances at 108th birthday party

Nightingale House resident Ben Raymond was a hairdresser to celebrities. He attributes his longevity to 'a positive outlook'


London’s oldest man, Nightingale House resident Ben Raymond, is 108 today.

Bermondsey-born Mr Raymond moved into the Clapham home with his late wife Millie in 2012, when both were over 100.

They met through their love of dancing and Mr Raymond said he hoped to celebrate his birthday by belly dancing at a party for family and friends.

Through family connections, he trained as a hairdresser and opened a salon in Marble Arch. Customers included aristocracy and actor Charlton Heston, whose hair he cut before the filming of Ben Hur. “I remember King Edward walking past the salon many times.

“Another day, I was called to the Marylebone Clinic to see what I could do after the Crown Prince of Arabia’s hair had turned white. I dyed his hair black at his bedside, surrounded by his concubines.”

When the family moved to Wallington to be near their son’s grammar school, “I opened another salon and became a member of Croydon Synagogue. We then sold the salon and moved to Sutton, where we became members of Sutton and District Synagogue and would often go to the friendship club.”

He has always kept a kosher home and is a regular at the Nightingale synagogue. He attributes his longevity to “a positive outlook on life” and, possibly, an occasional tot of whisky, although he now forgoes that – and has also recently stopped smoking his pipe.

He is said to be the third oldest man in the UK.

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