UK's oldest judo teacher and WW2 veteran from Cramlington turns 100

Cramlington army veteran Jack Hearn has celebrated his 100th birthday with a special event at County Hall in Morpeth.
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Northumberland County Council hosted a special event for the council tenant to celebrate the milestone alongside his family, council staff, army cadets, and the council’s armed forces champions.

The centenarian is the oldest judo teacher in the UK, having earned his 10th dan aged 97.

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Jack said: “I think it is so important to keep your mind active. To keep in touch with the world, keep meeting people, and talking to people and having respect for each other.

A special event was held for Jack at County Hall in Morpeth. (Photo by Helen Smith/NCC)A special event was held for Jack at County Hall in Morpeth. (Photo by Helen Smith/NCC)
A special event was held for Jack at County Hall in Morpeth. (Photo by Helen Smith/NCC)

“My judo has certainly kept my body going but it has also given me a purpose and gets me out the house to meet people.

“I have also had an enjoyable life with wonderful people around me.

“There have been bumps along the way of course but I have definitely had a bit of help from the man in heaven looking down on me.”

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Jack, who is now a father of five, grandfather of 15, and great grandfather of six, first took up judo in 1951.

This came after serving in the Northumberland Fusiliers during the Second World War, fighting in North Africa and Italy, including the battle of Monte Cassino.

Three years after taking up the sport Jack started his own judo club with his brother Rob.

Working on a tight budget, they made their own mats from sawdust, old army canvas, and material taken from lifebelts.

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Jack still offers technical advice to other judoka, and plans to remain active and enjoying his life.

He said: “As part of my birthday present I am going up in a microlight so I am really looking forward to that.

“I have always loved travelling and went out to Benidorm earlier in the year, so hopefully I can do a bit more of that too.”

Council leader Glen Sanderson said: “It was a privilege to meet Jack and his family and an honour and a joy to say hello to one of our heroes.

“It was very kind of them to come into County Hall and I know everyone who met Jack and his family were so pleased to have met them.”