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Train Enthusiast Tony’s 78th Birthday is Just the Ticket

At Bernard Sunley, the Woking-based residential, nursing and dementia care home run by charity Friends of the Elderly, train aficionado, Anthony ‘Tony’ Brentnall has had a wonderful day celebrating his 78th Birthday, with the care team and his care home friends, which was definitely on the right side of the tracks.

Tony, who has been a resident at Bernard Sunley since 2021, was born on 31st January 1946. He had a happy childhood, growing up with his three siblings – John, Betty and Reggie – in Addlestone, Surrey which is home to the ancient Crouch Oak tree, which is thought to be over 1,000 years old and, under which it is said, Queen Elizabeth I picnicked.

Tony, who was named after his Great, Great Grandfather who was a Minister of a church, fell in love with the railway and trains at an early age as his home was very close to Addlestone Station. “I’m a real train enthusiast,” said Tony. “I love everything about them and without a doubt, travelling by train is the best form of transport.” Tony has also travelled on the world famous Orient Express. “It was a wonderful experience, actually being on The Orient Express. The train is full of history. It’s a long-distance passenger train service which was created in 1883 by the Belgian company Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits (CIWL) – it is truly iconic,” Tony added.

Tony attended Strode’s Grammer School, which was founded in 1704, when Henry Strode bequeathed £6,000 to set up a free school in his native parish of Egham. In the twentieth century, Strode’s became a boys’ grammar school, before being designated a sixth form college in 1975. “My favourite subject was Geography, which I suppose isn’t a surprise given my love of train travel. I loved it so much, I even attended extra lessons after school,” continued Tony. 

Tony has very fond memories of his Gran who lived nearby. “My Gran was a character,” recalled Tony. “She always loved telling us her war story. One day during the war she was sitting on the toilet when shots came through the toilet window. Poor Gran got quite a shock as you can imagine, but she lived to tell the tale – and told the tale very often, which always got a laugh.”                     

Tony says he was a well-behaved youngster. He was a member of The Boys Brigade, quite different to his brother John. “On the whole, I was mainly a good child, it was my older brother who was a bit mischievous,” said Tony. “He was often in trouble for getting up to no good.”

As Tony got older, he brought his first car, when everyone realised that ‘cars’ were going to be ‘the thing’ to have. “I purchased a Ford Black Tea, which was known as a youngsters run around car then. It was, of course, black as that’s all that was available. Henry Ford said that “Any customer can have a car painted any color that they want, so long as it’s black,” which explains a lot,” continued Tony.

Andy Cumper, the Registered Manager at Bernard Sunley said: “Tony a wonderful chap and a much-loved member of the Bernard Sunley family – he’s an absolute pleasure to care for.  Tony enjoys taking part in our wide variety of activities but is especially fond of our visiting entertainers – he particularly loves singing along with one of our performers, Billy Clayton. He’s quite partial to Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Perry Como and Nat King Cole. Tony’s voice is also clearly heard singing hymns at our Church services – he can really hold a tune.

“Everyone at Bernard Sunley is so pleased that Tony had a First Class birthday. He’s our very own Cassey Jones.”

“I’ve had a fantastic 78th Birthday. As a child, having my birthday on the 31st January, I was always given the leftover Christmas Cake as a birthday cake – but not today, I had a wonderful birthday cake to celebrate my special day.

“Like the saying goes, ‘Life is the train, not the station’ as life is a constant journey, and I’m still going strong on my journey. Whilst the landscape changes, the people change, the train keeps moving and I’m not planning on stopping any time soon,” Tony concluded.

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