The big family party may have been postponed, but staff at Bernadette House care home ensured Joyce Garner had a 100th birthday to remember.
“Her birthday celebrations began at 8am with a wash and blow dry and putting on her favourite clothes,” said Emma Hinch, Head of Care.
While Joyce was in the bathroom, staff snuck into her room to decorate it with bunting and balloons. Joyce was delighted with how colourful everything looked. She then tucked into her favourite breakfast.
“We’d been saving her cards and presents for the past week,” care home manager Lydia Gardner said. “We wanted to ensure she had lots to open on her special day.” Staff gathered round to watch Joyce open dozens of cards and helped her get the wrapping off a particularly well taped up parcel.
Joyce enjoyed facetime with her family, with her two sons, granddaughter and three year old great granddaughter all dialling in for the facetime chat. Joyce showed them her cards and presents and chatted about how exciting it was to be 100!
Melvyn Prior, at BBC Radio Lincolnshire, called Joyce to wish her a happy birthday. Joyce chatted to him on air and revealed that the secret to living to be 100 and still being as mentally active as she is was simply to keep going and never give up.
Melvin Prior on BBC Radio Lincolnshire
Joyce told Melvyn she was concerned her card from the Queen might not arrive if the Queen was in isolation and hadn’t been able to write it. She needn’t have worried, shortly after she came off air, the doorbell rang. When the door was opened, the postman was standing two meters from the doorstep and told staff he had delivered her special birthday greeting.
“We were very relieved,” explained Lydia. “Joyce had been asking all week if her card from the palace had arrived. We knew it is protocol for the card to be delivered on the day, but with the shutdowns we were worried it might not make it.”
Joyce was thrilled and staff gathered round to watch her open her eagerly anticipated message from Her Majesty. “Can you call and tell the man on the radio I’ve got my card?” Joyce asked. “I don’t want anyone to think the Queen forgot me. Not when she’s so good at her job.”
Elizabeth Stephens, the proprietor, called BBC Radio Lincolnshire and Melvyn announced on air that Joyce had received her card. “It’s made my morning.,” he said. “What a lovely story.” In fact, Joyce was such a ‘feel good’ hit with listeners, she was invited back on the show in the afternoon!
Joyce’s birthday celebrations lasted all day. The activities staff decorated one of the lounges for her birthday tea and a selection of Joyce’s favourite party food was served. Joyce is friends with a number of residents and they joined her party and some of our staff who weren’t on shift but are very fond of Joyce and wanted to be part of her celebrations came in for tea.
The highlight of the party was Joyce’s 100th birthday cake. She had asked for a pink cake and the kitchen staff did not disappoint.
As she blew out the candles staff and residents sang happy birthday. “I’ve had a really lovely day,” Joyce said. “Thank you all so much. It makes me want to be 100 again next year.”
“Once the shutdown is over we’ll have a big garden party with your family and entertainers,” Elizabeth promised her. “You’ll have two birthdays in one year. Just like the Queen.”
Joyce was born in Cherry Willingham in 1920 and apart for a five year spell living in Lincoln during the Second World War, lived in the village until last year when she moved to Bernadette House. Joyce met her husband George when she was working as a maid at a house on Wragby Road. Her employer’s nephew came to visit, took a shine to the witty Joyce, and in 1941, the pair were married. Little did Joyce know that as George was in the Royal Engineers, it would be 1948 before he was demobbed and they were able to fully settle down together.
The couple have two sons, John and Graham, three grandchildren and five great grandchildren.