A D-DAY veteran who made national headlines after disappearing from his Sussex care home to attend the commemorations in France recently celebrated his 90th birthday with a little help from a Brentwood girl.
Bernard Jordan sparked a police search when he slipped out of the home in Hove and boarded a ferry to Normandy wearing a grey raincoat over his medals to join hundreds of veterans in marking the 70th anniversary of the landings.
It was on the ferry that he bumped into Debbie Watt, one third of the 1940s vocal trio The Candy Girls.
Debbie, 31, of Pennyfields, Warley, and the rest of her group were on board Brittany Ferries for a week singing for the veterans on their way to Normandy.
At the time, the girls had no idea of Mr Jordan’s story. But after later appearing on national television with him, the girls were invited down to his home, where he lives with his wife Irene, to perform.
Debbie said: “After our show we like to spend some time chatting to the Veterans and having pictures with them, and we spent extra time chatting to Bernie as we were made aware that he was on his own which seemed unusual as he was 89.
“We had no idea that he had 'escaped' from his care home! He said to us 'If I was 70 years younger I wouldn't know which one to ask to dance!'”
Debbie said Bernard had thousands of birthday cards from well wishers all over the country who were touched by his efforts to get to France.
She said: “He said he didn’t know what all the fuss was about – he didn’t win the war on his own!”