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Centenerian celebrates socially distanced 100th birthday thanks to weekly

More than 80 people helped a 100-year-old celebrate a socially distanced birthday party thanks to a weekly newspaper.

The Bromsgrove Standard set up a party for centernarian Ronald Gregory after being contacted by his great niece.

Lorna Wint, who lives more than 220 miles away from Bromsgrove on the Isle of Man, was concerned Mr Gregory would not get the celebration he deserved because of the coronavirus lockdown and had called the Standard last Wednesday to enquire if anywhere locally could deliver a birthday Sunday roast dinner to him.

Editor Tristan Harris took Ms Wint’s details and phoned Jules Evans, from the Bromsgrove Royal British Legion, who had organised a virtual VE Day 75, promoted through the paper, the week before.

The story was trailed on the Standard's front page this week

The story was trailed on the Standard’s front page this week

A 1940s and 1950s singer was subsequently recruited along with a local baker to provide a cake, and town crier Kevin Ward, who created for Mr Gregory his very own ‘cry’ detailing his life.

One family responded to a social media post appealing for someone to cook Mr Gregory his birthday lunch and a local business acted as a drop-off point for cards and engraved a gift for the 100-year-old.

More than 80 neighbours came outside to sing happy birthday to Mr Gregory on the street where he lives.

Tristan said: “After receiving the call and knowing the Bromsgrove community as I do, I knew between us we could give Ron a 100th birthday to remember.

“Jules has always been a great organiser of events in the town so I was sure she would be the right person to ask. As soon as I called she took on the challenge and we began mooting ideas.

“It was a fantastic event to be involved in and provided our readers with a heart-warming feelgood story during these challenging times.”

Ms Wint added: “I am blown away by it all – I’m absolutely speechless. This is better than I could have ever dreamed of – thank you ever so much to the Standard, Jules and everyone who got involved.

“I couldn’t sleep on Saturday night – it was like when I was younger on Christmas Eve. I can’t believe what you have all achieved and organised in less than three days.”