Family pays tribute to man who died 103 years to the minute after he was born

Jimmy Newell from Dittisham
Jimmy Newell from Dittisham
Jimmy Newell from Dittisham

A great-grandfather has died at the exact time and date as he was born – 103 years ago.

Jimmy Newell was born to the sound of bells ringing at midday on October 11, 1913 – a story he would often tell his family and friends.

And in a remarkable coincidence he died with his son Graham holding his hand in hospital at the precise moment the clock struck noon again – on October 11, 2016.

Graham, 65, said he believes it was his dad’s determination to be “properly 103” and not short change people that gave him the determination to hold on.

He said: “My father always told the story that he was born to the sounds of the bells at 12noon coming from Leeds Town Hall.

“It was a regular feature of his and everyone knew and talked about it.

“He certainly died holding my hand at exactly midday on his birthday while I was on the phone to my son

“I told my son he had just died and we checked the time – and it was exactly 12noon to the minute.

“It was on the dot. My belief is that it was deliberate as he would never short-change everyone.

“He really wanted to be 103. He had amazing determination and I genuinely believe that was what he wanted.”

Graham, who lives in Brighton, said that Jimmy had suffered a fall 16 days before his death.

He had lived on his own and was transferred to Torbay Hospital for a hip operation but never returned home.

He added: “He died 16 days after the fall. He was known to everyone who knew him for his determination.

“He did a lot of sport and was amazingly fit for his age. The irony is that had it not been for his fall we were going to take him to Spain for his 103rd birthday.”

Jimmy Newell from Dittisham, Devon, with his great Grandson Ben
Jimmy Newell from Dittisham, Devon, with his great Grandson Ben

During his career Jimmy, who lives in Dittisham, near Totnes, Devon. had been at the forefront of computer technology.

He was partly responsible for computerisation of the bank industry and is believed to be behind the first hole in the wall cash machine in London.

He had a second child Carol Dornan, five grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. His wife Kay died in 2000.

He was described as a World War Two computer pioneer and died peacefully with his family by his side.

He was the youngest of seven children in a family that ran a coal business and lived in great harmony in a back-to-back house with outside sanitation.

A passionate sportsman, Jimmy played many sports – including demonstration games of badminton designed to popularise the game.

He was still playing club cricket at 60 – his favourite team being Yorkshire and he knew the team well personally.

One of his grandsons Andy, wrote on the day he died: “On this day in 1913 my grandfather drew his first breath, today at noon his last.

“Eyes full of extraordinary things have closed. A heart charged with 103 years of joy and suffering is now still.

“Travel well and thank you.”

There will be a celebration of his life at St George’s Church, Dittisham, on Thurs­day, November 3, at 2pm, followed by a toast and the reading of the final verse of his ‘Birthday Poem’.


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