Care staff deliver a special 100th birthday surprise
- Credit: Fourways Community Care
A former chief engineer for London buses was not left forgotten on his 100th birthday as Fourways Community Care staff made sure he had a cake to cut and candles to blow out.
Mr Robert Fryars OBE, who lives at Cottington Court in Sidmouth, was visited by Fourways owner Rachel Evans-White and some of her team - Andrea, Annie and Flora. They all paid him a visit to sing happy birthday and to deliver cards and balloons.
“To try to make it special we arranged for a birthday cake to be made by the chef at Fourways Residential home,” said Andrea. “We wrote to our carers asking them to send a birthday card to Mr Fryars and many did, so he had loads of cards and yes, he also had one from the Queen!
“He also had a group Zoom meeting with his family and some of his friends in the afternoon. He has two sons who are both abroad at the moment so are unable to visit him.
“Mr Fryars enjoys painting and used to attend art classes weekly before the pandemic.
“He is amazing for his age, we just do two hours a week housework and shopping for him.”
Mr Fryars was born on 27 January 1921. He was educated at Brighton College, to which he had won a scholarship, and hoped to go to university, but his father, a self-made businessman who was himself the son of a railway porter, forced him to leave school shortly before his 16th birthday.
In January 1937, he was apprenticed to Henry Butcher & Co, a small surveying firm in Chancery Lane, London.
In July that year decided to become an apprentice mechanical engineer at AEC Ltd, of which his father was company secretary.
Mr Fryars completed his apprenticeship in January 1942, but was almost immediately called up for military service. He intended to join the RAF, but was instead retained at AEC on vital war work designing prototype armoured vehicles. He was promoted to chief designer in 1950, assistant chief engineer in the 1950s, and chief engineer in 1960.
In 1966, he became chief engineer of the Leyland Motors Truck Division and in 1968, technical director of the British Leyland Truck and Bus Division. He held this post until his retirement in 1982. Mr Fryars was awarded an OBE in the New Years Honours list in 1987.