Horace enjoys an early 105th birthday party at Gower Gardens Care Home
Horace Green’s birthday falls on Christmas Day but he had a special reason to celebrate his 105th birthday early as his son Steve was back in the West Midlands on holiday from his home in Austria.
After a life spent in the West Midlands, 42 years retired, Horace now lives at Gower Gardens, in Kent Road, Halesowen, and enjoyed his big celebration on Sunday with family, friends and fellow residents in the Kingsley Healthcare-run care home’s cinema room.
The party was topped off by a wonderful birthday cake made by the home’s kitchen assistant Megan Osborne. However, there was one important thing missing that Horace will have to wait for until the 25th.
The family has been told that a congratulatory birthday card from the King is on its way from the Palace.
Horace puts his grand age down to “good genes”. His brother was 101 when he died and one sister is still living at 99.
While his hearing and eyesight have deteriorated, he does not use a Zimmer frame or stick to help him walk, takes no tablets and eats like a horse.
Horace was born on 25th December 1918 at 27 Holt Road, Blackheath, one of seven children, four girls and three boys all living in a three-bedroom terraced house.
He recalled they slept top to toe in the bed to get everyone in, his mother and father slept in the second bedroom, and his grandmother in the third bedroom.
His father not only worked as a plasterer and builder but also ran stalls on Blackheath, Cradley and Halesowen markets and Horace said that there were always big barrels of wine gum sweets, to be sold on the market stalls, which all the children used to pinch on the way to school.
Aged 15 Horace went to work in a printing works in Hockley, Birmingham and travelled there and back on the train each day from Blackheath.
A year later, he started work as an indented trainee carpenter at Jackson’s Builders, Causeway Green, Oldbury. The apprenticeship cost his father £100, equivalent to about £5,000 in current money.
He worked during the day and travelled three nights a week to Oldbury to attend night school.
Horace served about five years as an apprentice and qualified as a carpenter in about 1939.
Aged 21 he was called up in 1939/40 and joined the Royal Berkshire Regiment (East) and later transferred to the East Anglian Regiment.
He spent two years in Morpeth, Northumberland, working as a Military Police man on traffic control.
He then moved to Leeds and was a chauffeur to the Principal Field Marshall in the North-East and drove him about in a large Humber car – “a very good posting”, he said!
It was while he was in Leeds that he married Dulcie Parkes at Birmingham Road Methodist Chapel, Blackheath on 26th September 1942.
He then moved to the Nottingham area and for some of the time was stationed in cold draughty stables where he caught pneumonia and pleurisy.
Whilst on leave he visited his own doctor with a jaundice condition and following his return to his regiment was invalided out of the Army unfit to serve.
It was his good luck that he was invalided out of the army as his Regiment sailed to Singapore and a few days after their arrival the Japanese invaded and the men were sent to work on the Death Railway.
Only two returned and he said it is unlikely that he would have survived that ordeal.
Having no job, Horace and his wife Dulcie purchased a small wool shop down Long Lane near Shell Corner Blackheath.
Horace continued to rest and recuperate and about 12 months later they purchased a Cafe in Sheepcote Street just off Broad Street in Birmingham and he ran that for about four years during the food rationing after the war and that got him interested in catering.
That business was compulsorily purchased by the council for redevelopment and a larger café was purchased on the Bristol Road, Northfield.
This was a large property and it had a bakery and a large seating area and did very well from the workers at the Austin plant at Longbridge just down the road.
This business was sold and his next move was to Midland Catering running commercial catering at various works around the Black Country.
The next move was working for the City of Birmingham Catering Department where he catered for Civic functions and Royal Visits, and met the Queen and Queen Mother on a number of occasions.
During his time still with The City of Birmingham he and Dulcie in 1969 purchased a take away food and delicatessen’s shop in Barmouth, North Wales.
Dulcie ran the shop during the week and Horace set off from Birmingham after work Friday night to drive to Barmouth, worked the weekend there and travelled back at 6am Monday to be back at the council office in Birmingham for 9am start.
They sold that shop in about 1973 and Horace continued to work for the City of Birmingham Catering Department.
In 1981 Horace took redundancy and early retirement at 63 years of age from the City of Birmingham when they decided to cut back and reduce the number of staff.
He has been in Masonry for over 60 years, having been Worshipful Master three times in Wernlegh Abbey Lodge Number 6356 in Halesowen.
His wife Dulcie died 25 years ago after he had looked after her for a number of years following her diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease.