Though Bob Weighton has seen it all, he’s never had a birthday quite like this one.
Weighton, of the United Kingdom, was recently named the oldest living man in the world by Guinness World Records after the passing of the previous title holder, Chitetsu Watanabe of Japan, on Feb. 23.
One day after he turned 112 at the assisted living home where he lives, Weighton on Monday was presented with his official Guinness World Records certificate — but not by the organization’s representatives, as is typically the case.
Because of social distancing measures in place to protect U.K. residents from the spread of coronavirus, the organization could not be on hand for the presentation and staff at the assisted living home did the honors instead.
“Due to social distancing, Guinness World Records was unable to be on-site,” a Guinness World Records spokesperson said in a statement. “However, we enlisted the help of his assisted living home, who arranged for ‘Happy Birthday’ to be sung to him on his balcony and presented him with his certificate, all from a safe distance to celebrate this remarkable milestone.”
Despite the acknowledgment, earning the record as the world’s oldest living man is bittersweet, Weighton told the organization.
“I can’t say I am pleased to hear that the previous holder has died but I am very pleased that I’ve been able to live so long and make so many friends,” Weighton said after earning the title.
It’s also another thing to be named the world’s oldest man during a global pandemic, he added.
“It is bizarre. I’ve never experienced anything like coronavirus before,” Weighton told The Guardian. “I’m a bit frustrated but then again I’ve been in situations where you just had to accept what was happening.”
“It’s alarming, it’s threatening. I never thought that something like this would happen — neither did anyone else,” he continued of the coronavirus outbreak. “I’ve never been isolated before. I’ve had the flu and most children’s diseases, but never self-isolation. But there is nothing we can do about it so you might as well do what you can. Never mind about the things that you can’t.”
According to the organization, Weighton was born on March 29, 1908, and was one of seven children.
While teaching at a missionary school in Taiwan, Weighton married his wife, Agnes, in 1937. The two had their first child and attempted to relocate back to the U.K. from Taiwan in 1939, but with the emergence of World War II, the family instead made their way to Toronto, Canada.
During their time there, the couple had two more children and returned to the U.K. once the war was over.
Today, Weighton has 10 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren — a remarkable legacy for the man who is now just over four years away from becoming the oldest man ever. The current record holder is Jiroemon Kimura from Japan, who died at 116 years and 54 days on June 12, 2013.
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