Shoreham war hero celebrates 100th birthday with surprise care home party

A former Royal Navy sailor who served during the Second World War has celebrated his 100th birthday with a surprise party at his care home in Shoreham.

Tuesday, 5th May 2020, 4:01 pm

Eric Reed was unable to celebrate the centenary with his family on April 27 because of the lockdown, but staff at Elmcroft care home were determined to make it a day to remember.

Celebrations for Eric included cake and some bubbly, followed by entertainment from local violinist Sarah Milnar, who performed in the garden in line with social distancing guidelines.

Monica Donald, home manager at the St Giles Close facility, said: “We know this isn’t the milestone birthday that Eric or his family had planned but we wanted to make it as special as we could for him.

Eric Reed SUS-200405-160010001

“Eric is very popular at Elmcroft and we all enjoy listening to the stories he has to tell.

“I don’t think anyone in our home is surprised that Eric has reached this incredible milestone, and it’s a testament to his positive and determined outlook on life.

“Despite his age he continues to keep us on our toes.”

Born in Cuckfield in 1920, Eric later moved to Washington in West Sussex.

He started his working career as a delivery boy at the local chemist and in 1940 volunteered to join the Royal Navy, where he became a Leading Hand.

During the Second World War Eric served as a wireless operator, including on anti-submarine vessels in the waters of America and Canada after the attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941.

The following year, after he and his crewmates were saved from a sinking ship off New York harbour, Eric was given 14 days ‘survivors leave’ in nearby Connecticut, where he was also part of a football team that played against the famous Yale University.

On leaving the Navy, Eric trained as an electrician, later opening his own shop in Worthing.

He met his wife, June, at a dance on Worthing Pier and the pair later married in 1980.

He moved into Elmcroft care home in October 2019, and soon settled in, making many friends.

When asked what was his secret to a long life, Eric said: “I have been very well looked after all of my life.”

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