Sunderland Second World War Veteran celebrates his 100th birthday

Photo: Ernie with his guests/Gentoo Group/Mediaworks.
Photo: Ernie with his guests/Gentoo Group/Mediaworks.

A Sunderland Second World War veteran has celebrated his 100th birthday.

Ernie had a celebration at High Grindon House where he lives, with his family, residents, friends and special guests.

Special guests included the Mayor of Sunderland – Councillor Barry Curran, Gentoo’s Acting Chief Executive, John Craggs, Chair of the Sunderland Armed Forces Network, Graham Hall and Sunderland Association Football Club (SAFC) Museum’s Director, Michael Ganley.

Ernie, who is a devoted Sunderland SAFC fan was also surprised by Bobby Kerr, Richie Pitt, and Micky Horwill, from one of Sunderland’s 1973 FA Cup Final squads.

Ernie was presented with a birthday cake in the shape of his Chevalier Medal by Carla Cuthbertson and Dave Caslaw from Gentoo’s Veterans Group.

Carla’s charity, Brothers in Arms, kindly donated a light buffet for guests to enjoy.

John Craggs, Acting Chief Executive, Gentoo said: “Ernie has been a Gentoo customer since 1946 and we are delighted to be part of his 100th birthday celebrations.

“As well as taking part in Gentoo social events at High Grindon House, he is also a friend of Gentoo’s Armed Forces Veterans Group.

“He was a guest of honour at our Remembrance Service, reading the exhortation and sharing his stories with staff.”

The SAFC Museum also brought to life a history of the club over Ernie’s lifetime, presenting him with a SAFC replica shirt signed by the current team, with his name and his age printed on the back.

Michael Ganley, Director, SAFC Museum, said: “It’s a great honour to have been invited to help Ernie celebrate.

“Ernie is a lifelong Sunderland fan and it’s been a privilege to take him on a trip down memory lane with artefacts and stories from the last 100 years.

“The SAFC Museum is committed to bringing the team’s history to life to people of all ages and we look forward to working alongside organisations such as Gentoo in the future.”

Ernie, the son of shipyard plater Ernest and his wife Alice, was born in Trimdon Street in 1916.

He grew up in Millfield and Pallion before he and his wife, Florence, settled in Pennywell where they raised their own family of five.

He is a WWII veteran who served with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers from 1940 to 1946, landing on Gold Beach in Normandy as part of the D-Day invasion in 1944.

More than 1,000 British men lost their lives on the beach that day, but Ernie survived.

He was awarded France’s highest honour for his role in helping liberate the country, receiving the Chevalier Medal at a ceremony in Durham Cathedral last year.

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