Ex Preston RAF Veteran celebrates 100th birthday in lockdown
Now a resident of a Lytham care home, RAF veteran John Myerscough celebrated his momentous birthday during lockdown, with residents and staff of the home becoming his family for the day.
John, from Cottam, was once educated at Preston Catholic College and served as a Lieutenant in the Fleet Air Arm 804 squadron.
He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross while operating from an aircraft carrier on a photographic reconnaissance of the Kra peninsula Penang and Northern Sumatra.
During his time as an RAF veteran, he was involved in the North African and Salerno landings before becoming the manager of the TSB Bank in Preston for 40 years.
Sadly, due to the pandemic and lockdown restrictions in care homes, the momentous birthday celebrations continued at Stella Matutina Care Home without his daughters and their families being able to visit.
Anne Caulkin-Smith, Activities coordinator of the care home, Clifton Drive, said: "The day began with a service in the chapel to celebrate John’s life. This was followed by a champagne reception prior to a three course lunch.
"A film on the spitfire was then shown followed by an afternoon 1940s singalong with afternoon tea. John had two socially distanced visits from representatives of the RAF who passed on their congratulations and thanks for his years of service."
The Queen sends congratulatory messages to those celebrating their 100th birthday in the UK - which made John's celebrations without his family at little easier.
The arrival of the pandemic meant that a number of restrictions had to be placed on care homes to prevent the spread of infection and make sure care workers and residents remained shielded from the virus.
Managing Covid-19 has been no easy task for staff at care homes - Anne, who has worked at the home for three years, wanted to make John's birthday as 'special as possible' under the circumstances.
"We would have always done a big celebration for him, but this year neither of his daughters could come to his birthday. One of them was impacted by the local lockdown in Blackburn and the other couldn't make it back from France as she would have had to quarantine for 14 days. Instead, we all became his family for the day," she said.
"He started the big day opening his cards and telegram from the Queen - there were hundreds of cards and presents for him to open. The special service at our chapel celebrated his years in service and we all wore hats before he was presented with a series of aeroplane pin badges from a RAF representative.
"He said he was overwhelmed by all our efforts and couldn't thank everyone else enough. He said it had been a wonderful day."