Refugee and veteran, Joseph Winton, celebrates 102

18 Mar 2021

Born 2 March 1919, Joseph Winton recently celebrated his 102nd birthday with a visit from his daughter, Daniella, birthday Zooms and cake with fellow residents and staff, at Jewish Care’s Lady Sarah Cohen House, where Joseph has lived since June 2017. Joseph has two children, Philip and Daniella, and three grandchildren.

Joseph was born after World War I and lived through World War II. His parents Yiska and Shlomo Weissberg, a tailor, escaped Lodz, Poland in 1920 with his sister Rosette and then had his brother Jacques three years later in Brussels. In World War II, when the Nazis invaded Belgium, Joseph’s sister joined the Underground. Joseph and Jacques fled the country, hiding on a train for nine days and nights arriving in Toulouse, France and then hid on a transatlantic ship helped by an officer in the Polish Army, boarding without knowing their destination.

They arrived in Plymouth travelling by train to London and were taken to Chelsea Barracks to be interviewed by Scotland Yard, Joseph and Jacques were then allowed to make their way to family in the East End. Joseph joined the Royal Army Ordinance Core, making the most of his multi-lingual skills in German, French and Flemish, to work in communications. Joseph's brother, Jacques and his brother-in-law, also Joseph, joined the French Army and also survived the War.  

After the War, Joseph began a business as an agent for French Ladies Designer Fashion house called Desarbre and then ran a business selling unique Trefousse leather gloves, which were supplied to Her Majesty the Queen. 

He met Ann Ahuva Armon in 1957, who was living in Israel and grew up in Manchester. Marrying soon after they met on 20th March 1957, they were together for 59 years, living in St Johns Wood then moving in 1960 to Fitzalan Road in Finchley where they had Philip in 1961 and Daniella in 1965.

Many years later, Ann moved to Lady Sarah Cohen House, where he would visit her each day, as well as attending Jewish Care’s Michael Sobell Community Centre in Golders Green to make new friends, dividing his time between his wife and his grandchildren, until Ann sadly passed away in February 2016 and Joseph moved to Lady Sarah Cohen House in 2017, where he also celebrated his 100th birthday with a big party and a card from The Queen.

Talking about his birthday this year, Joseph said, ‘It’s a perennial thing! I loved my personalised card that sits in my office. I always smile and my advice is to live a healthy life, try to do the right thing and be content with what you have.”

Joseph’s daughter, Daniella Winton added, “We were delighted to have the pod to visit dad on his 102nd Birthday which of course is a very special occasion. We brought cards, a cake, some big balloons, presents and this all really made his day or as he would say it made him “tickled pink”.

“It was a big comfort to us and he enjoyed every moment. Since then, the following week it was my birthday and on that day it was also my first visit in over a year where I could go into his room and hold his hand and that was my best birthday present of course. All in all, my dad remains happy, healthy and positive which is a testament to the incredible staff at Jewish Care who have kept him so well cared for and nurtured during this very difficult time. Thank you so much Jewish Care.”