90th Birthday: Ronald Newman

Ron Newman from Havant has been playing the drums since he was nine
Ron Newman from Havant has been playing the drums since he was nine
Picture: Franca Perletti

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It’s not every day that you see a great-grandfather playing the drums – but as it was his 90th birthday, Ronald Newman couldn’t have marked the special occasion in any other way.

Ron, from Havant, has been playing the drums since he was nine, either on his own or with bands.

About 70 of Ron’s friends and family members gathered at The Swan in Bedhampton last month to celebrate the drummer’s birthday.

Ron’s wife Doris, 89, who he married 66 years ago at St Peter and St Paul Church, Wymering, was also at the party.

The couple’s two children, Eileen Rutter, 65, and Keith Newman, 63, were also in attendance, along with their four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Ron, who was born in Portsmouth and grew up with six siblings, used to work at the dockyard.

He then went on to work for a gas company, becoming a trench inspector, before moving on to Havant Borough Council and then Hampshire Car Sales.

During his working life, Ron was also playing the drums on the side.

‘I’ve never been out of work,’ says Ron.

‘I used to go out drumming in the pubs at the weekends. I played with lots of different people, piano players mainly, because they had all the kit in the pubs back in those days.’

‘I was in one band called Tommy Moss and the Ramblers and another called Dallas with my son Keith.

‘We used to gig around the country and western venues.’

Ron’s father had 11 brothers who were all musicians. This was certainly an influence on the young lad, who would sit and play on a biscuit tin until he got his own drum kit.

‘I’m very passionate about playing,’ says Ron.

‘It’s a bit like riding a bike. Once you’ve learned how to do it, you never forget.’

‘The best place I played at was the Hayling Club.’

‘I also liked playing at the The Old House at Home in Paulsgrove.’

Ron’s son Keith is very proud of his father.

‘My dad’s had a lifetime playing the drums and still enjoys it now,’ says Keith.

‘He’s played with some great people. To highlight just one or two would be silly because he’s done so much.

‘I was able to have beans with my toast when I was younger because he earned a proper living by drumming.’

Even though Ron is partially blind, that doesn’t put him off playing.

Keith says: ‘I know guys that are 65 and have retired from the drums.

‘To be alive aged 90 is an achievement, to be still playing the drums aged 90 is fantastic.

‘The fact my dad’s partially blind as well makes what he does even more amazing.’

To make his birthday even more special, Ron’s nephew Trevor Broad, who is also a drummer and part of the band Reactor 1, bought Ron a snare drum from the British Drum Company.

Speaking of reaching the age of 90, Ron says: ‘I feel lucky to still be alive.

‘I’ve got a good marriage, a good family and I’ve been lucky.

‘What more could I want?’