The bee side - If you wanna be a record-breaker.
Well, I thought I'd heard everything; so it just goes to show I guess. I was reading in the paper the other day about a chap called Henry Allingham. You may have heard of him; he's broken some important records lately and is hopefully showing us all how to do the same.
Henry is Britain's oldest man on record. He achieved that status on March 29 this year when he reached the grand old age of 112 years and 296 days. In doing that he passed the previous record set by John Evans from Wales, who died in 1990 at the age of 112 years and 295 days.
Henry Allingham is also one of Britain's only two surviving veterans from the first world war and is, indeed, the oldest Royal Navy veteran. Earlier this year he was awarded the Legion d'Honneur by the French government, France's highest badge of courage, and that has led to an early day motion being laid in parliament to gain support for a similar award from our own government.
But the record breaking doesn't stop there. In June this year, Mr Allingham will celebrate his 113th birthday, thus becoming a teenager for the second time in his life. I mean, who'd have thought? I was writing about this on my Twitter site the other day (www.Twitter.com/PensionsGuru as you ask, everyone's at it these days) and it started a whole load of spin-off twittering about teenagers getting pensions.
I was thinking about what some people were saying about that on Twitter and it made me start thinking about the basic state pension. The maximum number of years that anyone has been able to pay contributions towards their basic pension has been 49 up to now (it will be 52 years for younger people nowadays, but don't tell them about it as it'll probably spoil their gap-year fun). The thing that occurred to me about that is that if Mr Allingham reaches his 114th birthday next year, which I really do hope he does, then he will have been in receipt of his basic state pension for 49 years; the same amount of time as the maximum contribution period. How about that? If he does so that will be yet another record he will be able to add to his impressive collection.
It will be a record that will take some beating too from younger people these days if they have a state pension age of 68 rather than 65. To start with, they will as I've said already, have to pay national insurance contributions for an extra three years, making the maximum contribution period of 52 years, from the age of 16 to 68. For them to be in receipt of the basic pension for as long as the maximum contribution period would mean that they would have to live to the ripe old age of 120.
Thinking about it, that's not just the sort of information that would spoil a gap year; it would probably send most young people these days into the kind of emotional tailspin that could dog their thirties and forties as well. Like I said, it's probably best not to mention it...
First published in Pensions Management, May 2009