This blog is devoted to my old friend and co-author, William Earl, who celebrated his 105th birthday on 12th May.
William and I have been friends since February 2009, when we started working on his WW2 memoir, Blood and Bandages – fighting for life in the RAMC Field Ambulance 1940-1946.
He’s seen Tom grow up.
We ‘ve shared highs and lows.
It was inconceivable that such a milestone should slip by, so his family and I conspired to give William a birthday he’d never forget.
His granddaughter, Tammy, baked a birthday cake in honour of his favourite football team.
Two of his great grandchildren composed a leaflet asking William’s neighbours to gather at 11am to give him a round of applause.
We harnessed the power of social media to ask for 105 cards on Facebook and 105 tweets on Twitter. Max’s school, Glebe Primary School, got behind us, guaranteeing that we’d reach the target.
Apart from being a friend, William is one of a shrinking group of WW2 veterans, so he also belongs to the nation . As such Joss Loader, journalist and local Councillor, sent out a press release which resulted in media interviews and interest from BBC Radio Sussex.
Mark Carter, BBC Radio Sussex editor and presenter, had interviewed William and I when Blood and Bandages was launched in 2017, so he replayed extracts from that interview on his breakfast show. Meantime, his colleague and fellow presenter Allison Ferns, arranged to call William on his birthday to deliver the final surprise of the day.
During the planning, my old neighbours on Shoreham Beach willingly acted as gofers to make sure the day went well. And it did. On 12th May, Judith and William Earl emerged from their house to find a waiting crowd. William was overwhelmed.
He was presented with 200 plus cards, over 105 tweets, bottles of champagne and the magnificient Arsenal cake. It’s been over a week now and he’s still overwhelmed.
William’s virtually housebound nowadays so he habitually re-lives his life from the comfort of his armchair. As he scrolls through his memories, his 105th birthday will now be amongst the other remarkable days he recalls from his long and varied life.
Thanks for visiting. See you again on Friday 5th June.
With love from Singapore.