Alan Carter

Alan Carter from Tintagel

AGE 74

LIVES Hertfordshire

CAREER Draftsman


Alan, who keeps a detailed list of his aches and pains on his computer, describes his diet as healthy, and credits the war years for giving him a healthy start in life. “None of these ready meals!” he says. He played football as a young man and walked everywhere. He smoked until he was 34 but gave up before the birth of his son.


Alan was often top of the class at Tintagel Primary. After completing an engineering apprenticeship, he got a job as a draftsman for an aircraft and electronics firm. Alan spent part of his career in Canada and he retired in 1993.

In his younger days, he was "never even registered with a doctor”, but he has since had several complaints and currently takes 16 pills a day. During the 1970s he developed back pain linked to his sacroiliac joint. He manages his conditions by keeping a detailed record of his ailments and treatments on his computer.

In 1992, he began to experience breathlessness. Alan says, “I used to walk the dog before work and one day I only managed to get 200 yards before I had to stop and lean against a wall because I was so out of breath.” He eventually had an angioplasty to clear a blocked artery.

In 2005 he found out he had diabetes and in 2007 he was diagnosed with polymyalgia rheumatica. Alan says he's eaten a healthy diet, a habit he picked up "from the messages delivered by rationing and education during the war". He played football as a young man and walked everywhere, and although he smoked he gave up 40 years ago.

Doctor's notes

"Alan’s story is a good example of what is possible through modern medicine. The treatment for his heart and his diabetes didn't exist when he was born and as these are the conditions which might have shortened his life, it's easy to understand why average life expectancy has risen so much.

"Surgery for nasal polyps and on the gallbladder would have been possible when Alan was born but those, too, are much safer now. These conditions can often be treated with less invasive procedures using flexible scopes rather than open operations.

"Polymyalgia rheumatica was less common when Alan was born because it's a disease which is more common in old age. It affects about four people in every 10,000 over the age of 60. When Alan was born life expectancy for men was only 60 and now it is well over 70, so this condition has become more common."

Alan's health tip

“Start eating healthily when you’re young. I think we benefitted from the war years and we also had an outdoor life. At the time it wasn’t seen as the ideal life but it made us healthy.”

  • The Class of 1948 content, including this article, was written in 2008 to mark the 60th anniversary of the NHS and is not being updated.

Class of 1948: Alan Carter

Alan, 74, has diabetes and polymyalgia rheumatica, has suffered from back pain, and had an operation to open blocked arteries.

Media last reviewed: 08/07/2015

Next review due: 08/07/2017

Page last reviewed: 03/04/2014

Next review due: 03/04/2016


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