Family, friends, staff, local MP Esther McVey and Granada Reports were all in attendance at the surprise party. Ernest was proudly dressed in his military uniform sporting his medals and regimental cap and badge.
The Tabley Tea Room, run by Debbie Townsend, is located in the beautiful grounds of Tabley House on Tabley Lane in Knutsford, neighbouring Tabley House Nursing Home where Ernest has lived for the last 11 years.
As a special surprise Ernest’s son Alvin organised music courtesy of Warrington Brass Band. The smile on Ernest face was delightful as the band payed homage to Ernest’s love of music being played by brass bands.
Ernest was born on 28 June 1922 in Ashton-under-Lyne where he was raised and lived until he joined the Army in January 1942, aged just 19. He served with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in the 59th Infantry Division. His Colonel was Field Marshal Montgomery. After intensive training in Northern Ireland, Ernest was posted abroad to bravely fight for his country. On his 22nd birthday, 28 June 1942, his battalion landed in Normandy as active participants in the D-Day operations.
Alvin, Ernest’s son, has helped Ernest to record his memories giving detailed account of the many battles he and his comrades experienced and endured as they pushed through France, Belgium and Holland on their objective. When they reached the small Dutch town of Venray, Ernest was told of an unexploded bomb in the cellar of a house.
With little thought for his own safety, he immediately removed his kit, picked up the bomb and – carrying it “like a little baby” – took it out to the garden where he carefully placed it in a shell hole. The house was the home of the local Mayor who ensured Ernest was awarded the Dutch Liberation Medal for his bravery and presented Ernest with his award when he visited Venray six years after the end of the war.
Unfortunately, Ernest was badly injured on the 19th October 1944 and repatriated back to the UK where he spent the next 18 months in hospital. Ernest’s left arm was permanently paralysed and his right leg had to be amputated above the knee. He was discharged from the Army in 1946.
“We are very proud to be able to care for Ernest,” says Tabley House Nursing Home matron Karen Lynskey. “He’s a survivor and a real trouper who keeps us all on our toes!”
Ernest thoroughly enjoyed his surprise party catching up with family and friends. In addition he will also be having another party with the residents and staff at Tabley House Nursing Home and will be looking forward to receiving his 100th birthday card from Her Majesty the Queen.