Report: Robin Young
Photography: Holly Mason
BOILING water and allowing it cool before sipping a cupful each night is the secret of long life for a World War Two RAF veteran.
And when Douglas Brazier marked his 102nd birthday at the Peel Common nursing home he moved to 18 months ago, it was a particularly special event.
For the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic, he could celebrate with daughter Lynn; grand-daughters, Wendy, Lorraine and Tracey; and great-grandchildren Connor, 16, and Holly, 14.
During his wartime service, Douglas had flown in Spitfires and Lysanders until a locked elbow meant he was no longer able to press the firing button for machine-guns and after being medically discharged eventually ended up working for the Air Ministry.
It was there that he met his future wife, Oriel, who was working in the typing pool.
On retirement, the couple lived in Bournemouth. After Oriel’s death, Douglas moved from Clifton Lodge there to Newgate Lane, which his family felt offered better care facilities.
‘He loves the ladies – always blowing them kisses’
Now he is closer to Lynn in Bridgemary, and Lorraine, Alver Valley, Gosport. Wendy works nearby in the Queen Alexandra Hospital and Tracey has a drive of less than two hours when she visits from her Oxford home.
In his long lifetime, Douglas has lived under five different Monarchs: George V, 1910-1936; Edward VIII (the ‘Uncrowned King), 1936; George VI, 1936-1952; Elizabeth II, 1952-2022 and now, King Charles III.
Proud grand-daughter Lorraine said: “He’s still got his faculties, although he’s a little bit deaf and uses hearing aids.
“He’s had Covid twice and lived through that as well.”
After celebrating his 99th birthday in a local pub with favourite tipple ginger beer, Douglas was unable to march the 100th milestone with a special party because of lockdown but did receive the much-treasured greeting from Her Late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.
Douglas enjoys regular visits from younger members of the family and is still taking that boiled water at bedtime.
Lorraine – who spoke to the Globe after Holly Mason’s visit to photograph the birthday celebrations – added: “He’s such a well-loved member of the community and he loves the ladies – always blowing them kisses!”
PICTURED: Douglas Brazier celebrating his 102nd birthday in Newgate Lane, Peel Common