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A BIG BIRTHDAY: For 1 day the struggles of the pandemic are forgotten as Ernie celebrates his 100th birthday

War veteran Ernie has been celebrating his 100th birthday at Brunswick House Care Home in Newcastle.
At the start of the pandemic, care homes were under incredible pressure as they tried to keep their residents safe.
A number of contributing factors meant that care homes were a prime location for coronavirus to spread.
But now, 18 months later, there is cause for celebration, as one resident in Newcastle has been marking his 100th birthday.
Ernie Aust
Ernie's daughters, Jan and Helen told me how having to adapt to the conditions of the pandemic was difficult.
Physical contact of course had to stop, with residents and families turning to video chats and waving through windows, and as things eased off slightly, being separated by screens and booths.
War veteran Ernie made Tyneside his home back in 1957 after falling in love with a Geordie girl, Lily.
The pair are still happily married and live together at Brunswick house in Newcastle.
Trying to manage the virus within care homes was no small challenge. Most residents likely fall into the vulnerable categories.
Staff need to come into close contact with residents in order to provide the care they need, and there were reports that the PPE stocks needed in care homes were being diverted to NHS hospitals and services.
But the staff at Brunswick did all they could to keep spirits high by putting the residents creative and physical skills to the test.
A story of true love
Ernie was only six years old when his father, a Police Sergeant in the Metropolitan Police, died and his mother made the difficult decision to send Ernie and his brother Charlie to live in the Metropolitan City Police Orphanage at Twickenham.

He received a good education, although he missed his home and, with support from the orphanage he managed to get a job working as a shorthand typist at a solicitors’ firm at London’s Holborn.

His career was cut short by World War 2 and after a stint with the Home Guard he joined the RAF, serving with Tactical Air Force HQ and Mediterranean Allied Air Forces HQ until the end of the war in Europe.

Following the war, he returned to the solicitors’ in Holborn and, while on holiday with friends in 1953 he met his future wife who was also on holiday with friends.

At the end of their two week holiday they knew they were going to spend the rest of their lives together, although it was a year before they were officially engaged.  Lily, who worked for the civil service, transferred to London and they married at St Michael and All Angels Church in Enfield on 2 April 1955.

In 1957 they decided to move up to Lily’s home city of Newcastle and Ernie took a job as a costs clerk with the Newcastle based solicitors Clayton & Gibson, where he remained until his retirement in 1986.


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