Staff members at Leeds-based residential and nursing care home, Donisthorpe Hall pulled out all the stops for a special celebration to mark the 100th birthday of one of their residents, local legend Bert Miller. An afternoon tea was prepared and served at the home with Bert’s friends and family joining in on Zoom due to lockdown restrictions.
Born in Liverpool in 1920, Herbert, known fondly as ‘Bert’ or ‘Herby’ has a passion for food and was often spotted picking out the freshest fruit and vegetables at Leeds Kirkgate Market and sampling the best fish and chips in every Yorkshire seaside town.
Bert was one of four children to parents Abraham and Lena Miller. The Miller family was one of the largest in Liverpool and Bert’s father was known for working in the jewellery trade and playing at Anfield for Liverpool Amateurs. A nod to Bert’s Merseyside roots could be seen in the Liverpool-themed balloons and cards he received on the big day.
Bert and his family moved to Leeds in 1939 at the outbreak of the Second World War, it was here that his career in engineering began as he secured a job making plotting and pressure instruments for the navy. In 1943 Bert was conscripted into the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and after a number of UK postings he was sent by boat to Tel El Kabir in Egypt, half-way between Cairo and Port Said. The ordnance camp provided vehicles and equipment to the army in the Middle East and he spent most of his time working with optical instruments and smoking shisha with the locals.
Back in Leeds, engineering work was in short supply and so he applied for a clerical role at the Ministry of Defence tank factory in Crossgates which produced one of most successful post-war tank designs, the Centurion. In 1955, he brushed past King Hussein of Jordan visiting the factory, presumably doing some last-minute holiday shopping for tanks!
In 1961 Bert married Lilian and made their home in Leeds. Together they had three children – Marcia, Shelley and Andrew (Windy), and now has six grandchildren who he is incredibly close to and looks forward to seeing again once restrictions are lifted.
“Dad had the most wonderful afternoon and we can’t thank Donisthorpe Hall enough for the effort they made to mark this truly special birthday in light of the current restrictions. He received cards and messages from all over the world and was overjoyed by the love and kindness shown to him by the staff and fellow residents,” said Marcia.
Speaking on behalf of the care home, manager Nicola Murphy said: “We wanted to make his birthday as memorable as possible for Bert, but also for his family and friends. We were unable to celebrate in the conventional way, but the staff here worked incredibly hard to prepare and serve a delicious afternoon tea complete with music, decorations and of course, a fabulous cake.”