Sunday 23 November 2014

Care home veteran vows to return

Published 06/06/2014 | 15:01

'Then and now' photo of Bernard Credit: Twitter
Bernard Jordan, an 89-year-old Second World War veteran, holding a picture of himself as the Mayor of Hove (Gracewell Healthcare)
Bernard Jordan and (inset) as a young man

A 90-year-old war veteran found in Normandy after being reported missing from his care home in England said he made the journey to see the "first class show" - and plans to do it again next year.

Bernard Jordan was reported missing last night by staff at The Pines care home in Hove, Sussex, after embarking on his cross-channel trip for the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

The former Royal Navy officer told ITV tonight that he hoped he would not be in trouble when he returned.

He told the broadcaster: "Because I wanted to go to this show here that was on today, that was the main reason I came over here.

"It's a first class show because I have been here last year and I have been here obviously this time and I'm going to - touch wood I'm still with us - and I will be 91 then, but if I am still about I shall try next year's as well."

Asked if he would be in trouble with the care home he added: "I might be, but I hope not."

Mr Jordan, a former mayor of Hove, left The Pines yesterday morning wearing a grey mac and a jacket underneath with his war medals on, Sussex Police said.

Officers began searching the area, including checking hospitals in case something had happened to him, and spoke to bus and taxi companies, but none of them knew where he was.

The nursing home received a phone call from a younger veteran from Brighton at 10.30pm who said he had met Mr Jordan on a coach on the way to France and that they were safe and well in a hotel in Ouistreham.

Brittany Ferries said Mr Jordan was returning to the UK tonight and it had laid on a cabin, meals and a car back to the Pines.

Ship's liaison officer Sonia Pittam, who met Mr Jordan on his outward journey to France, said: "I knew he was a game old boy.

"He certainly has his wits about him, he didn't say much about the landings, just how pleased he was to be on board and couldn't believe how everyone was looking after them (veterans) and all the people waving on the route to the harbour entrance.

"He kept saying, 'All this for us'."

Sussex Police said they had spoken to Mr Jordan and would have a chat with him when he got home "to check he is OK".

A spokesman for the home said it was "definitely not the case" that the veteran was banned from attending the D-Day commemorations.

In a statement, Peter Curtis, chief executive of Gracewell Healthcare, which runs The Pines, said: "Mr Jordan has full capacity, which means that he can come and go from the home as he pleases, which he does on most days. At no stage was he banned from going to the commemorations.

"In fact,staff at the home tried to get Mr Jordan on to an accredited tour with the Royal British Legion but, due to the last-minute nature of the request, this was not possible.

"Mr Jordan was reported missing to the police yesterday evening as a matter of caution because he did not return from his normal trip to town and when he left had not told us he was still intent on trying to get to Normandy.

"At Gracewell Healthcare we celebrate the individuality of our residents' lives and are in awe of the part Mr Jordan played in the D-Day invasion 70 years ago."

The Gracewell Healthcare blog says Mr Jordan has lived in Hove his "whole life" and has lived at The Pines since January, adding: "He served in the Second World War in the Royal Navy and upon returning married his sweetheart, Irene, and began his professional calling.

"Bernard looks back on his career modestly and believed he was very fortunate to serve his community."

Mr Jordan told the blog: "I was able to take my chance, serve the people of my town and do a job I loved. I am very proud of what I was able to do.

"For anyone who is interested in becoming mayor, you must be prepared to work hard."

He was mayor of Hove from 1995 to 1996, the blog said.

The highlight of his working life was meeting Margaret Thatcher, according to the blog post.

He said: "It was definitely one of my favourite memories. She was an amazingly strong lady. When she visited Brighton I got the chance to meet her and it was a very proud moment for me."

The blog reports that Mr Jordan was presented with a special award in 1999 for his dedication as a local councillor for 34 years.

He still has a keen interest in politics and also loves supporting his favourite football team, Brighton and Hove Albion, the blog post said.

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