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Lydgate Lodge’s Swimming Enthusiast Celebrates 100th Birthday

Published: Monday 18th May 2020

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Ernest Barnes has celebrated his milestone 100th birthday with the help of the Lydgate Lodge care staff in Batley. The keen swimmer, who continued to enjoy the pool until well into his eighties, believes the secret to a long life is to stay young in the mind and keep fit and active for as long as you can.

To mark his birthday, Ernest spent much of his morning on Facetime calls to his loved ones and opening his many birthday cards and gifts, including a card from the Queen which he was thrilled to receive.

Ernest’s friends at the home gathered together to sing happy birthday and present him with his favourite sponge cake that was freshly made and beautifully decorated by the Lydgate Lodges chef. Ernest was extremely moved by all the fuss he received and ensured his cake was shared around all the residents and staff.

Ernest was born in 1920 and lived in Paignton, Devon with his parents as the youngest of seven siblings. Throughout his childhood, Ernest was a keen sportsman and took part in many clubs and teams including the Sea Scouts and was the Coxswain for a local rowing club. Ernest believes his passion for swimming came from living so close to the sea and in later life he would often enjoy visiting the swimming baths at least twice a week where he would manage up to a mile during each visit.

Ernest said, ‘Swimming is fantastic exercise and helps to strengthen and engage each muscle group. I have always enjoyed swimming and water sports from an early age, I was never interested in football and rugby. I often find that a simple breaststroke is my favourite and I would suggest beginners start with that too!’.

Ernest followed in his father’s footsteps, working in the building trade as a joiner. During the war, Ernest volunteered to join the army where he was recruited to the Royal Engineers in the Waverley’s 8thArmy to serve in North Africa. It was Ernest’s responsibility to unload the ships at Alexandria Docks, which would often be a dangerous role with overhead bomber planes attacking the ships.

Following the war, Ernest met the love of his life during a chance meeting in a local park when a small dog stole his cap! Ernest chased the dog to retrieve his cap and met the dog’s owner, Peggy. Ernest said, ‘There was an instant spark between Peggy and I. We both thought it was hilarious that her dog had pinched my cap and we agreed to meet again’. They married in December 1945 and the spark the couple felt during that first meeting remained with them for over 60 years of marriage.

Moving into Lydgate Lodge care home in March 2019, Ernest said, ‘I have survived many things in my life, and it was my goal to celebrate my 100thbirthday and receive a card from the Queen.  I am very pleased to have done just that!’.

‘I would like to thank all of the fantastic staff at Lydgate Lodge for the effort they put into helping me celebrate my birthday. I had a fantastic day and I have been truly spoilt!’.

Lydgate Lodge Home Manager, Gary Kent, said, ‘Ernest is a wonderful gent, I am thrilled to have been able to help him celebrate such a special day. We will be sure Ernest celebrates his birthday again with his loved ones as soon as we can’.

Lydgate Lodge is operated by Ideal Carehomes and has been awarded a ‘Good’ rating by the Care Quality Commission. All 64 bedrooms at the residential care home are en-suite, enabling staff to deliver dignified and person-centred care. Boasting spacious lounges, a hair salon and cinema room, residents enjoy a full programme of health, leisure and wellbeing activities, managed by a dedicated activities coordinator. To contact Lydgate Lodge, please call Home Manager Gary Kent on 01924 355020 or click here.