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Maidenhead man who was Ghana's first ambassador to the Soviet Union celebrates 100th birthday

A hundredth birthday party has been held for a Maidenhead man who was Ghana’s first ambassador to the Soviet Union.

Family and friends threw a surprise party for John Banks Elliott at the Oakley Court Hotel, in Windsor Road, on Sunday.

They greeted the centenarian with a booming rendition of Happy Birthday before enjoying a day of food, music and laughter.

Speaking to the Advertiser about his reaction to his birthday surprise, John said: “I don’t know what I have done for this to be happening for me but I am so very grateful. I was truly honoured.”

John was born in the Ghanaian city of Cape Coast on February 9, 1917.

He later served in Burma under the Commonwealth troops during the Second World War.

But his big move came in 1960 when he moved to Moscow to take up the role as his country’s first ambassador to the Soviet Union.

During his time in the Soviet capital he met leading political figures including Nikita Khrushchev as well as the first man in space Yuri Gagarin.

John added: “There were difficult, intense and stressful times during my tenure, but circumstances make your mind act. I suppose it’s a gift.”

John returned to his homeland in 1966 when his country’s president Kwame Nkrumah was deposed but was thrown in jail before being released months later.

Shortly after the political upheaval he moved to Maidenhead, where he has been a devoted parishioner at All Saints Church in Boyne Hill.

John has been heavily involved with the Anglican Church throughout his life and spent time as an understudy to the first Bishop of Accra, John Aglionby.  

He added: “We chose Maidenhead for our home more than 50 years ago and have never moved since.

“It is and will always be so.”

John had seven daughters and one son.

His wife Jayne Esther Sampennie died in 2009.

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