Lonely widower 'overwhelmed' to receive 5,000 cards from kind-hearted strangers to celebrate his 101st birthday

·4-min read

Watch: War hero receives more than 5,000 cards from strangers to celebrate his 101st birthday. 

A lonely widower celebrating his 101st birthday has been sent over 5,000 cards from strangers, after an appeal from kind-hearted care staff who wanted to surprise him on his big day. 

Jack Annall, an RAF veteran from Halifax, was disappointed that his daughter couldn't fly from Australia to celebrate with him because of travel restrictions due to the pandemic. 

Determined to help cheer him up, Vicky Gudgin, manager at Sandholme Fold Care Home, appealed for people to send him a birthday card. 

"He doesn't have much family as his daughter lives abroad," Gudgin explains. 

"I knew he was feeling a little bit down about not being able to see his daughter and I thought, what can we do to lift his spirits?"

RAF veteran Jack Annall received more than 5,000 cards for his 101st birthday after kind-hearted care home staff appealed to strangers to make his day special. (SWNS)
RAF veteran Jack Annall received more than 5,000 cards for his 101st birthday after kind-hearted care home staff appealed to strangers to make his day special. (SWNS)

Having initially asked other care homes in the area to send cards, when the appeal was shared on social media, thousands arrived from all around the world.

Annall was greeted on his birthday (19 August) by a sea of cards which covered the floor and walls of his care home. 

A brass band also played 'Happy Birthday' to the war veteran and multiple birthday cakes were also donated by strangers to add to the celebration. 

While glasses of Prosecco were offered to party goers, the centenarian instead enjoyed a pint of crisp pear cider, his favourite drink.

Annall said he couldn't believe the kindness which had been shown to him by strangers from around the world and joked it would take him "101 years to read all of the cards".

"Today has been absolutely incredible, the atmosphere has been amazing," he said. 

"I was so overwhelmed and touched that these people thought of me. It's just so unbelievable, I don't know how this has all been done. I'm just over the moon.

"I just want to thank everyone across the world and the country for making the day so special."

Angela Holdsworth (L), Annall's care plan coordinator, comforts the veteran as he he overwhelmed by the number of cards. (SWNS)
Angela Holdsworth (L), Annall's care plan coordinator, comforts the veteran as he is overwhelmed by the number of cards. (SWNS)

The veteran, who served in the RAF, was also treated to a visit from the Air Force, the local mayor and a brass band on his big day.

"Jack is a wonderful person and we really want to make the day special for him," Gudgin says. 

"Knowing Jack, he wouldn't want a big party, I just thought it would be nice to get a few cards for him."

Watch: War veteran celebrates 100th birthday with a skydive. 

Staff at the care home had to set aside a lounge room in the home to accommodate all the cards and gifts.

"We've had businesses and people offering to send presents and arrange entertainment. We've had singers offer to come and perform," Gudgin adds. 

"But Jack likes to be low-key so we've tried to keep it that way as best we can.

"He had a visit from an RAF representative, the mayor came to see him and we have a brass band playing for him because he loves brass bands.

"We're keeping the cards a surprise for him though."

Jack Annall when he was in the RAF. (SWNS)
Jack Annall when he was in the RAF. (SWNS)
Jack Annall (left) with his late wife May and daughter Mary. (SWNS)
Jack Annall (left) with his late wife May and daughter Mary. (SWNS)

Annall was born in Carlisle, Cumbria, but moved to Bradford, West Yorkshire, where he lived with his late wife, May.

He served as a joiner in the RAF for more than four years during WW2 as part of Number 617 Squadron and worked on Mosquito planes.

Their daughter, Mary, now lives in Sydney and has not been to the UK for more than three years in part due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He has video calls with his daughter twice a week and his niece also visits once a week, but he has no grandchildren.

Jack Annall received more than 5,000 cards. (SWNS)
Jack Annall received more than 5,000 cards. (SWNS)

Annall, who has lived in the Sandholme Fold care home since 2016, said good food was the secret to living so long.

Staff say he enjoys painting, classical music, brass bands and speaking with his family.

Mary, who was planning to give her dad a special call on his birthday, said: “Dad is an amazing man who has always supported those close to him.”

Additional reporting SWNS.

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