Rolls Royce ride for Ernest Wilberforce as he celebrates 100th birthday
HE ARRIVED at his 100th birthday bash in style – albeit a little late.
Former chauffeur Ernest Wilberforce and his wife Doris were taken to Market Weighton Community Hall in a gleaming Rolls Royce Silver Shadow.
Their journey involved a brief diversion into the countryside, so the eager friends and family, including many from his home village of Cottingham, had to wait a little longer.
Tears and wine flowed in equal measure on the couple's arrival.
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It took a little while before the centenarian – descended from Robert Wilberforce, Hull MP William's brother – could get a seat.
Surveying the sea of faces, each one beaming back at him, Ernest joked: "I'm not responsible for this lot. Do they all look like me?"
If any of them look as good as Ernest when they hit 100 they will be delighted.
With keen eyes and a straight back he is a man to be reckoned with. While a stream of family members placed drinks in front of him, the guest of honour spelled out what may be the secret of his longevity.
"I like my garden and I've always done my own gardening," he said.
"I mow my own lawn. Why not?"
Indicating his ever-present wife, Doris, he said: "Whenever I put my foot out of the door she says 'you're not going out to garden again are you, you think more about that garden than you think of me'."
It's said tongue in cheek.
The couple have been married for 67 years, living first in Cottingham and, for the past 12 years, in Market Weighton.
At 93, Doris is a little more frail than her husband. She has lost her sight.
Ernest doesn't talk about his role as a carer but he does the cooking and cleaning at home. Questions about how he manages were brushed aside.
Shelagh Morriss, one of their four daughters, says: "He's a good dad and he's been a hard worker all his life.
"Gardening is his hobby I suppose. I know he still does it, especially cutting the grass.
"Mum's blind and he still cooks and cleans, he looks after her. He's amazing."
Living in Market Weighton, Shelagh is able to see her parents every day.
Two years ago they went on holiday together to France, where Shelagh and her husband have a holiday home. It is in a wine producing area and the bottles of Bordeaux adorning every table at the community hall were produced by vineyards near their home.
The picture on the bottles was of a smiling Ernest enjoying his holiday.
Married in the 1930s, his first wife, Ruth, died before the war and Ernest, who had worked as a chauffeur, volunteered for the Army.
He said: "I was on my own so I thought 'I'll join up'.
"I joined the Signals and I was all packed up and ready to go when they sent me to Prestatyn in Wales to be an instructor. I was a lance corporal.
"Then I moved to Catterick and they made me a sergeant because I'd been on a few courses.
"I wanted to go abroad but they wouldn't let me. I volunteered for everything I could."
Grieving for his first wife, Ernest was a young man who did not place much value on his own life.
But fate, aided by his considerable ability as an instructor, meant he survived the war and his two sons with Ruth, Harold and Les, now 77 and 73 respectively, were able to see their father turn 100.
They were attended Saturday's party, alongside their dad's second family.