100-year-old celebrates birthday in aged care lockdown
IT'S not how he was hoping to celebrate his 100th birthday but Tom Berry still enjoyed his big day despite being in lockdown.
The Ipswich centenarian marked the milestone with wife of 73 years June in the Infinite Care facility in the city's CBD.
The big party planned by his family still went ahead in the park across the road which Mr Berry could view from his window.
The nursing home went into lockdown this week to protect residents in response to new cases of COVID-19 popping up in Logan and Ipswich.
"This is what he was really looking forward to," daughter Kaye Tonner said.
"The nursing home have been really good and they've thrown him a celebration with just the nurses.
"He got his letter from the Queen and from the Prime Minister. He's had messages from people that he's known for years.
"He's really enjoyed his day."
Mr Berry started driving buses from Ipswich to Amberley in 1939 as an 18-year-old.
He took over Amberley-Rosewood Bus Company in 1979 when previous owner Hilton McDonald became ill and the business, now called Highway Coaches, has stayed in family hands.
Mr Berry drove the buses for more than 60 years before he lost his licence due to health concerns; a decision he was less than impressed with.
His passion for the industry and his business kept him around long after he had to stop driving.
Mrs Tonner said he especially loved driving school buses and trips to the Snowy Mountains.
"Dad has been in Ipswich all of his life," she said.
"He never really retired. He was still going to work when he was 90.
"He was just going down to be around there and make sure everything was right.
"He was really good at listening to engines and he could hear if anything was wrong with it just by listening to it."
The Berrys have four children, 11 grandchildren and four great grandchildren, with a group of 40 family and friends gathering to celebrate today.
The couple moved into the aged care facility at Easter.
"He loves being around the grandkids and the great grandkids and seeing them all," Mrs Tonner said.
"We were coming out to my brother's place to have a party out there (before the lockdown). It was just a celebration of his life, which is what he wanted.
"It was still a good day and he could see us all there.
"The nursing home has been lovely and made his day special for him. Dad's just pleased he's been able to see and enjoy the day."