Greater Victoria man turns 105, raises more than $450K for charity

Greater Victoria man turns 105, raises more than $450K for charity
John Hillman celebrates his 105th birthday at Oak Bay's Carlton House, Monday, March 18, 2024.

A Greater Victoria man marked a milestone on Monday as he turned 105 years old, but what’s more impressive is his commitment to helping children in need.

In recent years, centenarian John Hillman has become well-known in Oak Bay and beyond for his impressive birthday celebration: walking hundreds of laps around his former retirement home, Carlton House, to raise funds for the charity Save the Children.

In March 2020, for example, the Second World War veteran turned 101, so he walked as many laps around the building. Then it became a yearly tradition, with Hillman doing 102 laps in 2021, 103 laps in 2022 and 104 laps last year.

To date, Hillman’s raised more than $450,000 for Save the Children.

The charity, which has been around since 1919, gives children “a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm,” according to a post on its website.

One last lap

Monday, however, marked Hillman’s last lap around Carlton House.

He’s decided to step back from his fundraising walks but still managed to do one more trek around the building. And, as per his wishes, his yearly online fundraiser is now open indefinitely.

According to Carlton House, Hillman no longer lives there, but staff still held a birthday bash for him on Monday.

“Hello everybody, and thank you so much for coming. I hope you have a lovely day because I’m having a perfect day,” Hillman said before the crowd broke out in applause and song.

“For he’s a jolly good fellow, for he’s a jolly good fellow…” they started singing.

Then everyone gathered for a group photo before heading inside, where Hillman blew out the candles on his cake and was presented with a plaque marking the special occasion.

CHEK News also met with Hillman in 2021, 2022 and 2023, when he said he’d “just been lucky. I’m just alive. I’m still alive and enjoying it.”

His wife of more than 70 years died days before he launched his feat in 2021.

For the senior, Save the Children is close to his heart, and it’s noted on his fundraising page that he “gave a lot of thought” as to what causes were important to him.

“…and as he thought, he noticed more and more news stories about the hardships of children and families around the world,” reads the page. “Having experienced war himself at only 17, he uniquely understood the impact that adversity has on these young lives.”

The donation page is here.

Organizers add that Hillman’s efforts “have made him a hero and inspiration to many, reminding us all that it doesn’t matter how old we are: We can always make a difference in the lives of others.”

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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