Express & Star

Smethwick group holds fitting celebration for proud military enthusiast who is 100 years young

Friends and representatives of the British Legion and Home Guard held a fitting birthday party at a Smethwick community venue for one of its oldest residents.

Celebrating his century: Bert Finch was honoured by military organisations, friends and family who gathered at St Alban's Community Association on his 100th birthday

They turned out at St Alban's Community Association in honour of Bert Finch, the youngest son a of First World War veteran who was injured at The Somme.

Bert himself did his bit for the Second World War push by making parts for Spitfires as a machine operator at Alexander's in Dudley. He tried to sign up himself but was unable to due to a hearing problem – instead he enlisted in the Home Guard and volunteered as a fire and Air Raid Precautions (ARP) warden.

After marrying and working in a steelworks, in later life he enjoyed running a local Scouts group and after retirement operated rides at Dudley Zoo.

Bert pictured in his younger days

But he has become a big part of the St Albans Community Association, which runs community services and holds an Elderberry group which specialises in hosting meetings for elderly people who might otherwise be on their own – Bert regularly attends sessions.

He also reads the poem For The Fallen each year at the association's remembrance party, proudly wearing his father’s war medals.

The Elderberrys group that meet at St Alban's Community Centre Smethwick turned out for the 100th birthday of friend and service user Bert Finch. He is pictured with activities co-ordinator Natalie Comley; Grandson Andy Finch and serving soldier Dean Millard, who dressed in the Home Guard uniform that Bert would have worn back in the day..

Kath O’Callaghan, the community dementia advisor at St Alban's, said: "Bert is a wonderfully kind gentleman who fully deserved a wonderful celebration on reaching such a milestone.

"We celebrated in style with members of his family present, a live singer and representatives of the British Legion and Home Guard in attendance – both are close to his heart and he is proud of his father's service and the part he played in the war effort."