Valentine Gray with a photo of his grandchildren, who were important parts of his dual celebration yesterday.
Valentine Gray with a photo of his grandchildren, who were important parts of his dual celebration yesterday. Jenna Bishop

Twice the celebrations

NOT many people have the luxury of having two events on the same day each year, but Valentine Gray is lucky enough to celebrate twice on February 14 - Valentine's Day and his birthday.

"I kind of feel cheated - it's like having your birthday on Christmas Day," he said.

But the lack of double presents doesn't bother him in the least.

For Mr Gray it's the chance to spend quality time with his children and grandchildren, which is the best gift.

He said he was looking forward to spending Valentine's Day evening with two of his grandkids while their parents enjoyed a Valentine's Day dinner, as he celebrated his 69th birthday with close friends yesterday.

He said his Valentine's Day present this year was phone calls from his family wishing him a happy birthday.

"It's all about family - my grandkids are the important thing," he said.

Mr Gray said while he celebrated his birthday in the same way as everyone else, the double celebration made the day a little more special for the family.

"It's a little bit of a special feeling," he said.

While the name Valentine has lead to some interesting nicknames over the years - Valerie and Valium, to name a couple - he's quite at peace with his moniker.

"I don't mind," he said.

"Although, I was very careful about what names I gave my children."

"If I wasn't called that (Valentine), I'd be called something else anyway," he said.

Mr Gray, who was born in Ireland, said his mother had originally planned to name him Desmond, but a last-minute intervention from a midwife changed her mind.

The midwife suggested the name Valentine, following the Irish tradition of naming someone after the saint on whose day they were born.

Mr Gray said Valentine was a more accepted boy's name in Ireland, thanks to the tradition.

While celebrations were quiet this year, for his 70th birthday Mr Gray plans to return to Ireland in 2013 for St Patrick's Day, and spend time with his brother and sister, who still live there.

Instead of big celebrations each year, Mr Gray prefers to spend his time working with local community organisations, such as St Vincent de Paul and social justice groups - which he said is far more rewarding.


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