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WWII Air Force veteran celebrates 100th birthday at Royal Star & Garter

A WWII veteran who narrowly escaped death during the Blitz in Manchester has celebrated her 100th birthday.

Elsie Ellis lives at Royal Star & Garter in Solihull, and marked her centenary on 2 October with a party at the Home with family and fellow residents.

Royal Star & Garter provides loving, compassionate care to veterans and their partners living with disability or dementia. The charity also has Homes in Surbiton and High Wycombe.

Elsie was born in 1923 and grew up in Salford, Greater Manchester. She was just 15 when war was declared, and at the age of 16, she volunteered as a Cyclist Messenger with the Air Raid Precautions. This involved her visiting various wardens and taking their messages back to headquarters. Elsie said: “It was a dangerous job with bombs going off, the guns were firing and the shrapnel was falling and hitting the streets and making sparks. On one occasion a bomb hit a surface air-raid shelter. I’d been there a few moments earlier and had been talking to the warden outside. Everyone was killed, but I was just turning the corner. The blast from the bomb caught me and blew me off my bike.”

Elsie joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) at 18, where she became a Wireless Operator Mechanic at RAF Cranwell. She was also posted to Melton Mowbray where she tested the wireless equipment in aircraft before flights.

The Home hosted a party for Elsie on her big day, where she was joined by other residents and family, and enjoyed a celebratory glass of prosecco. She also tucked into a birthday cake, and was also given flowers and a gift from the Home, before entertainer Debbie Miles came in to sing. The day before, the great grandmother had enjoyed a large family get-together at Hogarths Hotel in Solihull.

Elsie’s daughter and granddaughter, Adrienne and Emma, said at the party: “Elsie is loved by her family and has set a wonderful example of a wise and loving parent, grandparent, great-grandparent. She is so valued by her whole family who are so delighted to celebrate this momentous occasion. Elsie and her family are so grateful to Royal Star & Garter for the caring, hospitable, supportive, friendly and welcoming home they continue to provide. We have so much to thank them for, they are undoubtedly gold standard and have contributed to her wellbeing and health for almost eight years.”

Royal Star & Garter in Solihull is welcoming new residents. For more information on this, or to work at the Home, got to www.starandgarter.org/solihull  

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