Crafty care home ladies knit tiny blankets for kittens and cats in need

Nimble-fingered ladies at our Dorset care home have knitted tiny woollen blankets to make life more comfortable for kittens and older cats waiting to be rehomed.
A party from Amberwood House in Ferndown visited the town’s Cats Protection rehoming centre to deliver their colourful handiwork.

They brought along 30 gift-wrapped blankets each made from individual squares of wool carefully knitted and stitched together and sized to fit a cat’s travel basket.

Blankets measuring 60cm by 40cm were aimed at kittens while those earmarked for older cats extended to 90cm by 60cm.

Amberwood House resident Mary Whitehouse has been a cat lover since she was a girl when her postman dad used to bring unwanted moggies back to their home.

Her daughters Christine Whitehouse and Elizabeth Doyle helped the blanket-making campaign by stitching together many of the squares Mary and other residents knitted.
After her minibus trip to present the blankets to Cats Protection, Mary said: “It was so wonderful to see how much help they are giving to the cats in their care who are looking for a new home.”
Fellow knitter Betsy Fisher said: “I felt proud to take the knitted blankets over to the cats. I have really enjoyed being part of this project. It’s all for such a great cause. I understand that we weren’t allowed to touch the cats but they were so cute I do just wish I could have cuddled them!”

Companionship Team member Justine Thorpe, who accompanied the residents on their crosstown trip, said: “Many of our ladies love knitting and when we asked around local charities to see if the blankets we were making would be any use, Cats Protection got back and jumped at the chance. For each cat they rehome they like to do so with a blanket.”

Colleague and Companionship Team leader Kirsty Richmond Cole said: “Back in lockdown we knitted a huge amount of squares which we stored in the home’s loft.

“We got them out last year and decided to do something with them. As well as the blankets for Cats Protection, we made woollen bunnies, fingerless gloves and hats out of the squares.

“We sold some of these items at our Christmas market last year in aid of Ferndown Rotary, raising more than £200.

“It has been a really lovely initiative involving residents, their families and team members.”

Cats Protection says there are many reasons why a cat or kitten may need to be rehomed including their owners moving house or experiencing a relationship breakdown.

Rehoming centres also take in lost and found cats who are reunited with their owners wherever possible. Cats can arrive at the centre after they have been abandoned, often sick or injured with the team nursing them back to health so that they can be found new loving homes.
Tanya Burnett, Deputy Manager at Ferndown Rehoming Centre, said: “We are so grateful for the blankets that the ladies from Amberwood House knitted with such care and attention to detail.

“We were also pleased to be able to offer them a tour of the homing centre and although we aren’t able to offer one-to-one time with the cats during tours, we are glad the residents enjoyed being able to see each of the cats in their individual pens, hear their stories and details of the work we do for cats, both at the centre and in the wider community, as we work to help people see the world through cats’ eyes.”
For more information on Cats Protection and to donate or volunteer for the organisation, visit

In the pink as Colten Care residents do their bit to help end breast cancer

Residents and team members at Colten Care have united in a colourful display of solidarity to raise awareness of breast cancer and help fund research into the disease.
Our sister homes in Dorset and the New Forest staged a host of activities and events for the Wear It Pink campaign run nationally each year by charity Breast Cancer Now.

Residents at Court Lodge in Lymington, Kingfishers in New Milton and Amberwood House in Ferndown were among those dressing up in pink and having fun with hands-on fundraising games and get-togethers.

At Court Lodge, Home Manager Rebecca Hannam and Healthcare Assistant Eddie Brion bravely volunteered to stand outside ‘in the stocks’ and have wet sponges thrown at them.

One resident, Jack Harris, felt so sorry for them he insisted on being a target himself.

“Actually I very much enjoyed it,” said Jack. “It’s for a good cause and it was only fair to join in.”
Companionship Team Leader Julia Puia said: “It was a very fun and wet afternoon. We had a great time with lots of laughter. Everyone paid a pound a time to pick up and throw a soggy sponge. Residents enjoyed the activity and seeing Jack volunteer to take part was the best thing.”
Pink-themed goings on at Kingfishers in New Milton included an afternoon party, raffle and information session complemented by a foot-tapping country music singalong led by visiting entertainer Retro Rita.

Resident Jack Phillips said: “I enjoyed the music so much, it really made me want to dance.”
As well as holding a day of games and quizzes, residents at Amberwood House in Ferndown supported Wear it Pink by knitting pink ribbons to sell to friends and family.

Hundreds of pounds have been raised across the homes. Donations are still being collected ahead of a total amount being confirmed.

Breast Cancer Now funds life-changing support for cancer sufferers and research into new ways to help prevent, detect and treat the disease.

The charity has an ambition that by 2050 everyone diagnosed with breast cancer will live, and be supported to live well.

Wear it Pink has been the flagship annual fundraising campaign for Breast Cancer Now for more than 20 years.

For more information, visit

Golden shot for Colten Care residents raising a cuppa for Macmillan

Colten Care homes have hosted a series of Macmillan Coffee Mornings with an added Willy Wonka-style twist.
Residents, staff and visitors raising a mug at the annual charity get togethers were served freshly prepared homemade cakes and pastries in the traditional way.

But at each of Colten Care’s 21 homes, chefs baked one of the tasty treats as a ‘Golden Cup Cake’, containing a hidden layer of edible gold leaf through the middle only to be revealed when the cake was bitten into.

The lucky recipient won a bottle of bubbly, chocolates and a donation to Macmillan on their behalf.
“I couldn’t quite believe it was the golden one,” said a smiling Pamela Kately, the winner at Canford Chase in Poole.
More than 100 cup cakes were baked by Chef Izzy Turczyn-Kuzma at The Aldbury in Poole, with housekeeping colleague Michael Sheppard receiving the golden prize.

And at Brook View in West Moors, the cup cake winner was visitor Hannah Kirby who had only just arrived to visit her grandfather Harry.

Moments after making her coffee morning donation along with partner Leigh, Hannah bit into the cake and saw the gold, prompting cheers all round.

Hannah, who was then presented with her bottle of bubbly, said: “I didn’t realise what it was at first and wondered what I had found in the middle. It was a lovely surprise.”

As well as the Golden Cup Cake search, this year’s coffee mornings at Colten Care featured plenty of conversation and other fun. There were mufti days for staff, guess-the-weight-of-the-cake games, cake sales, singalongs and dances.

At The Aldbury, two musicians from the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, violinist Jennifer Curiel and pianist and French horn player Kevin Pritchard, performed popular classical pieces and childhood songs such as Run Rabbit Run. Among the residents singing and dancing along were Mary Cooper, Elizabeth Kay and Win Clowerly.

Fellow resident at The Aldbury, Abdu ‘Hobi’ Sabih, did his bit to collect donations. He helped Companion Melissa Siat Caparros to push the fundraising cake trolley around the home, chatting with residents, staff and visitors.
Elaine Farrer, Colten Care’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “We always support the Macmillan Coffee Morning with all 21 of our homes taking part. It’s a fantastic community initiative. We invite families, friends and local contacts to come and join us for a coffee social and enjoy the fun. The prospect of winning a golden cupcake adds even more interest.”
The first Macmillan Coffee Morning took place in 1990 with the simple idea of encouraging people to donate the cost of their cuppa to Macmillan Cancer Support to help the charity’s work for people with cancer. Since then, more than £300 million has been raised.

According to Macmillan, one in two of us will face cancer. The charity’s aim is to help everyone with cancer to live life as fully as they can.

For more information and to donate, visit

Red Nose Day fun brings smiles all round

Residents and staff from our care homes let their hair down, dressed up in Red Noses and glasses, donned crazy hats, wigs, feathers and pom poms, and enjoyed lots of games and activities to raise money for Comic Relief.
The day of fun at across our 21 homes in the south included cupcake sales, singalongs of vintage comedy songs, hair dyeing sessions, fancy dress parties and exercise bike challenges.

Our home said hello to a familiar face when Brotherhood of Man singer and former Companionship Team member Nicky Stevens returned to entertain residents and do her bit for the appeal.

Nicky was happy to join in with the dressing-up activities and, microphone in hand, even serenaded resident Ray Cox with a rendition of the song Where Did you Get That Hat?. In reply, Ray quipped: ‘I don’t know but it cost too much!’.

At Woodpeckers in Brockenhurst, there was a competition to guess the number of balloons making up a giant Red Nose given pride of place in the lounge.

The contest raised more than £70 on its own, prompting resident Frank Coumbe to say: “It was a great way of raising money for Red Nose Day.”

The winner was declared to be Head of Domestics Hanahi Idi who guessed the correct number of 103 balloons and scooped a basket of goodies as his prize.

The day delighted new residents as well as those who have participated in charity activities at homes before.
Iris Barnes, who only recently moved to Kingfishers, said: “It was my first time experiencing Red Nose Day events here at the home. I really liked having fun with the dressing up. I thank everyone for letting me take part in all this for such a wonderful charity campaign.”
At St Catherines View in Winchester, residents were invited to apply bright red hair dye on willing volunteer Laura Sheldrake, the home’s Companionship Team leader.
Resident Jo Gough said: “Doing Laura’s hair reminded me of my mum doing my hair when I was a child. It was great fun.”
Colten Care Operations Director Elaine Farrer said: “Our residents and team members don’t tend to need much excuse to dress up and have fun. We are always delighted when Red Nose Day comes round and we can all get involved and show our support. It’s all about giving vulnerable and disadvantaged people the chance of a better future.”
The fundraising marathon, launched in 1988 and held every two years, supports people in the UK and around the world.

In the past two years, Comic Relief organisers say funding has helped 11.7 million people at risk from a wide range of challenging circumstances including poverty, disease, domestic abuse, hunger, violence, discrimination, fear and mental health issues.

This year, a key focus is encouraging donations to support civilians fleeing the war in Ukraine.

[caption id="attachment_3479" align="alignnone" width="1917"] Enjoying the Red Nose Day fun at Kingfishers care home in New Milton, Hampshire, are, from left, residents Polly Walker and Joan Lakeman, Companionship Team members Sue Hawkins and Rose Arcellana, and resident Iris Barnes.[/caption]