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Elphin resident celebrates his 21st birthday at age 84

February 29 was a special day for Peter Ronald because, for the first time in four years, he celebrated his birthday on his actual birth date.

With leap year generally only coming around every four years, Peter has had only around 21 ‘actual’ birthdays in his 84 years. “This makes me younger than my granddaughter, who is 24 years old,” he chuckles.

A resident of Rand Aid retirement village Elphin Lodge, Peter says being a leap year baby made him feel special, especially as a child.

He says he has never met another person born on February 29. His rare birthday makes filling his birth date in on official forms interesting, he says. “It always sparks questions.”

But when does he celebrate his birthday when there are normally only 28 days in February? “On a non-leap year, I celebrate the day before or the following day, on March 1, depending on the availability of family and friends.”

Generally, he says, his birthdays are more grandly celebrated in a leap year.

Peter was born in 1940, during World War II, in Glasgow, Scotland, at a time when Scotland was being bombed by the Luftwaffe.

Three years after the war ended, his family emigrated to Southern Rhodesia (Bulawayo).

Peter worked in the transport industry, including the rail, road and international sectors.

He married Majorie Jane Cornforth in 1965 and in 1986, they relocated to South Africa. The couple will celebrate their 59th wedding anniversary this year.

“Being born in WWII created an interest in military history. I was in the Rhodesian wars and attained the position of infantry major, although I retained my career and was not a full-time officer.”

Other interests include growing roses, for which he has won several awards, and learning about science.

“Our most permanent residence was in Edenvale, before moving to Elphin Lodge more than 14 years ago. “We love it here,” he says.

“We have three children, a son and two daughters, and are so blessed. We also have three grandchildren. Dominque (24) is in her fourth year of social work at Pretoria University; and Sebastian (9) and Isabella (5) live in Cyprus.”

Did you know?

A leap year is not strictly every four years. By adding a leap day every four years, we make the calendar longer by over 44 minutes. For this reason, not every four years is a leap year. Royal Museums Greenwich explains on its website that to be a leap year, the year number must be divisible by four – except for end-of-century years, which must be divisible by 400. This means that the year 2000 was a leap year, although 1900 was not. 2024, 2028, 2032 and 2036 are all leap years.

Happy ’21st’ birthday to Peter Ronald.


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