Jimmy Park, 90, proud new Aussie
A WEE dram of whisky a day has kept the doctor away from James (Jimmy) Park for 90 years.
The Glaswegian, who immigrated to Australia in 2000 at the age of 80, will become an Australian citizen at Bangalow’s A&I Hall today, and is ‘delighted’ at the prospect.
It was love at first sight when Mr Park first came to Australia to visit family in Melbourne 10 years ago and after years of negotiating with immigration authorities, he has won the right to citizenship.
Australia is ‘warm in every respect’, he said – the weather, of course, but primarily the people.
He believes there is nowhere as friendly on Earth, and if the immigration people had told him he had to go back to Scotland, ‘I would have thrown myself in the Clyde’, he said, with the twinkle that is never far from his eyes.
Mr Park’s first brush with Australians was inRimini, Italy, during World War II. He said the Diggers always shared their food with him and other hungry British troops.
The Italian theatre was one of many that Mr Park served in during the war in the Royal Artillery.
He had just met Winnie, the love of his life, when he was called up in 1940 and sent to Sicily for the Allied invasion.
A gifted guitarist, Mr Park also appeared on stage in Sicily, where he and his brother – appearing as The Bing Brothers (after Bing Crosby) – won a services talent quest.
There followed fighting in mainland Italy, France, Belgium and Holland and into Berlin. The ceasefire occurred on his 25th birthday, May 6, 1945.
But instead of being able to return to Winnie, Mr Park was stationed in Germany, on guard duties at the pre-trial hearings of Nazis accused of war crimes.
He says he stood behind the accused Rudolf Hoess, the commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp, before he was sent for trial, found guilty and hanged.
Mr Park returned to Glasgow, married Winnie and worked as a plumber and pipe fitter. They had one son, Alan, who made the most of his musical genes and went on to play keyboards with CliffRichard and 10CC.
Winnie died just months before their 50th wedding anniversary.
Mr Park lives at the Glen Villa Resort in Byron Bay, where Alan and his wife Fiona also have a bungalow.
He is a regular at the Bowlo and the RSL and walks into Byron twice a day as part of his ‘keep-fit’ regime.
But the self-proclaimed ‘wee laddie’ swears it is his daily drop of Scotch whisky that keeps him healthy.
“A dram and a pint of porridge, and you wouldn’t call a king your uncle,” he said.
Mr Park is not the oldest person to become a citizen, although it is believed he holds that honour for this year’s ceremony.