Isolated Anzac’s century: turning 100 in a crisis
A WORLD War II airman is set to have an Anzac Day to savour this year, coming less than a week after celebrating a milestone that few reach: his 100th birthday.
Mr Abbey was born in London in 1920 and in a decorated career with the Royal Australian Air Force he participated in the Battle of the Coral Sea in 1942 picking up US fighter pilots who had been shot down and served at Port Moresby and Borneo among other places.
He has lived in Brisbane since 1965, where he worked for the old Commonwealth Department of Works, travelling extensively across the state. He moved into residential aged care facility Carinity Wishart Gardens on Brisbane's southside in 2013.
While Mr Abbey would ordinarily attend a large Anzac service in the facility's hall tomorrow, the COVID-19 pandemic means that he will attend a much smaller service in the Community Garden. Mr Abbey marched proudly until his health prevented him.
Likewise, the virus outbreak meant his birthday party on April 18 was a smaller affair than would have otherwise been, with his family unable to visit their beloved father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
However, according to Carinity communications co-ordinator Lee Oliver, it was a busy day on the telephone for Mr Abbey, with family still wishing him a happy birthday.
For Mr Abbey though, despite the changes wrought by the virus outbreak, his will still be a week to remember.
He can also check a final entry off his bucket list: upon seeing Carinity Wishart's honour board for centurions when he moved into the home seven years ago, Mr Abbey commented: "I'm going to have my name on there one day".
Originally published as Isolated Anzac's century: turning 100 in a crisis