Eden resident Ted Roper celebrated his 100th birthday in style on Friday as family and staff from Penrith’s Lonsdale Court made the day special with lots of cake, visitors, bunting and balloons.
Mr Roper, of Penruddock, received many cards, including a very special one from the Queen, and he thanked everyone for their kind words and good wishes.
This was possibly not the celebration he may have planned, but he had a very enjoyable day.
The past year has been challenging as restrictions and lockdowns have prevented him seeing friends and family.
He also had a prolonged stay at Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle, and Brampton community hospital, but was very fortunate and thankful that he managed to avoid coronavirus and is now in good health.
Ted has survived his four brothers and sisters who were all born near Skelton. When Ted was aged six in 1927 he remembers the family moving by horse and cart with all their belongings to farm at Deer Rudding, Millhouse.
It was from Millhouse that Ted travelled to Carlisle to sign up for the RAF. Ted has a keen memory and loves to recount his days serving in the RAF.
Air Marshal Sir Baz North, president of RAF Association, sent a certificate, medal, and signed prints of which Ted is incredibly proud.
He was called up on August 1, 1941, and set off from Deer Rudding, Hesket Newmarket to Wigton train station, from where he travelled to to Padgate.
From Padgate he got a truck with a bunch of men to Filey and spent the next five weeks square bashing and training to handle weapons before being transferred for his first assignment at Middleton St George Airbase (now known as Croft Raceway).
Ted’s main task was arming Whitley and Halifax bombers.
After Middleton St George, he was sent to Turnhouse, near Edinburgh, to work on Spitfires as part of 603 squadron.
Being surplus to requirements Ted was then sent to Drem in East Lothian to join the 197 then later 193 squadron where the first Typhon squadron were being formed.
Following this, in 1943, Ted transferred to Tangmere before going to Needs Ore Point as D-Day approached.
While at Needs Ore Point Ted helped arm the typhoons which were crossing the English Channel prior to D-Day preparing the landing grounds.
Ten days after D-Day, Ted and the ground crew travelled to join the squadron at advanced landing grounds in France.
Ted then travelled through France, Holland, Belgium and into Germany, witnessing the destruction left behind by the advancing forces. While Ted was at Hildesheim, in Germany, the war ended and he was demobbed on July 10 1946, three weeks short of five years’ service.
After the war, Ted has many memories of his time working for the Forestry Commission, then latterly on the local estates such as Lowther and others as a self-employed forester. Ted loves the outdoors and keeping busy.
One of his main hobbies was working on his wood lathe, fretwork, making wooden clocks and framing pictures that his late wife, Jean, painted. He also loved gardening, growing a lot of the family’s fruit and vegetables.
During the pandemic, he formed a support bubble with his son John and family as visits have been strictly limited at Lonsdale Court where Ted now lives.
His daughter, Carol, and son, Alan, and family have been able to support Ted as much as they could while abiding with lockdown and social distancing rules.
Ted’s sister-in-law, Kath Nelson, has also given much time and support for which the family are very thankful.
Ted was upset to learn that Prince Philip died on his birthday and that he would not be able to celebrate his 100th birthday in June.
He has now set his mind to summer when he hopes he will be able to get out and about more and looks forward to seeing more of his friends.