Ernie celebrates his 100th birthday with family, friends and a card from the King

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Photo of 100 year old Mr Buckley with his family

A former West Lindsey District Council caretaker marked a very special milestone, when he celebrated his 100th birthday.

Ernest ‘Ernie’ Buckley who worked for the council as a during the 1980s, marked his centenary with family and friends at Foxby Court Residential Care Home.

Born in Batley, Yorkshire, his family all worked in the woollen mills, so when Ernie left school at 14, he became a woollen spinner. But things took quite a change of direction when war broke out and after turning 18 he joined the Royal Navy as a telegraphist, sending and receiving messages in Morse Code.

After a year of training, travelling to various places across the country, in early 1943 he was assigned to HMS Wrestler, a naval destroyer, where he embarked on what was called the Arctic Convoys, sailing on 3 convoys from north Scotland to northern Russia. The mission was to protect the merchant navy carrying supplies.

On D-Day Ernie’s ship was involved in the landings, but during the mission, struck a mine and was towed back to Portsmouth.

In July 1944 he moved to become part of the "Y" service in Winchester, as part of a network of Naval Signals intelligence sites.

Meanwhile, Ernie’s parents had the opportunity to take over a soft drinks manufacturer based in Gainsborough called John Davies. When Ernie left his role in the navy, he moved to Gainsborough to run the business with his father.

In 1952, he married Dorothy, who he met in Gainsborough. The couple went on to have three children, Alan, Avis and Peter.

Avis, who was among those celebrating (Tuesday, 5 December) her father’s milestone, said: 

“They had a lorry and they would deliver the pop and Guiness to pubs, clubs and shops around Gainsborough; he was really well-known – everyone knew the ‘pop man’ in the area.”

In the late 1960s, following competition from supermarkets, the factory began to go into decline and the factory was demolished to make way for a new telephone exchange.

“It was after this that my father started at Guildhall working for the council as a caretaker,” said Avis. “This would have been around the late 1970s and he stayed there until officially retiring when he was 65.”

Even after retiring, Ernie would help out at council meetings and on election days at polling stations, working in this capacity until into his mid 80s.

Speaking briefly, during his celebrations, Ernie said he remembers his time at the council fondly.

“Yes, I remember being a caretaker for the council at Guildhall. I used to have to lock everything up at night and I helped at meetings.”

Chairman of West Lindsey District Council, Cllr Stephen Bunney, said: 

“A huge congratulations to Ernest for reaching this amazing milestone. It’s always heart-warming to hear stories like this, and it was especially interesting to hear of Ernie’s time here at West Lindsey.” 

Among the flowers and birthday cards sent to Ernie from family and friends, was a rather special one from the King Charles and Queen Camilla, to mark his 100th birthday.

Ernie said he was very pleased to have been sent the card and said he didn’t really feel any different now he’s reached his 100th.

He said: 

“I don’t know what it feels like really – I don’t feel any different.”

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