Ex-royal milliner strengthens ties between Hampshire school and care home

A former society milliner whose clients included Queen Elizabeth was guest of honour as she judged a hat competition involving young children in the New Forest.
Pupils aged up to seven in the pre-prep department of Walhampton School in Lymington paraded a series of creations at an end-of-term garden fete under the expert gaze of Louisa McIntyre.

The ex-proprietor of a Lymington High Street shop and fabric label, Louisa travelled to the school from her care home in the town, Belmore Lodge.

Elegant in her own hat, she enjoyed the pupils’ parade and awarded prizes including a special commendation for Henry Cole, who had taken part despite breaking his collar bone the day before.

Louisa, who has lived at Belmore Lodge for the past two years, said: “I had a fabulous time seeing all these young people being so creative.”

The invitation to judge the competition reflects Louisa’s career standing as a top haute couture milliner.

She trained with Mayfair-based Danish designer Aage Thaarp, known for the hats he created for Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret.

Aage recognised Louisa’s natural talent for millinery design and encouraged her to move to Paris to learn about the fashion houses of Dior, Chanel and Jacques Fath.

She lived with her sister in a tiny bedsit in the Latin Quarter, creating designs to display in a friend’s salon.

After her time in Paris, she moved to Lymington and in 1959 opened her High Street millinery shop and label under the name ‘Liz Tilley’.

Louisa told carers at Belmore Lodge that she chose the name because Tilley was her husband’s surname and she thought ‘Liz Tilley’ had a nice sound to it.

The shop became a prominent fixture of the High Street and a well-known destination for fashionistas until it closed in the 1990s.

When she moved to Belmore Lodge in 2022, Louisa brought with her a scrapbook of pictures and press photos featuring hats she made for Queen Elizabeth.

The book took pride of place in a display the home staged in honour of the Queen after her death in September that year.

Louisa was joined at the Walhampton School fete by a party of fellow Belmore Lodge residents.
Among them was Brenda Close, who said: “Being around young people, sampling the atmosphere and seeing everyone enjoy themselves was wonderful.”
The visit was the latest in a series of contacts between the independent school and Belmore Lodge.

Walhampton pupils’ Chapel Choir recently sang in the Belmore Lodge garden along with residents from there and another Lymington care home, Court Lodge.

The show, led by our Music & Arts Partner Fiona Pritchard, included Any Dream Will Do from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat, a musical that the school staged this year.

Also performing was 96-year-old ex-professional opera singer Dorrie Smith, who now lives at our dedicated dementia care home Fernhill in Longham, Dorset.

Dorrie, who in her youth sang on the BBC’s Listen With Mother programme and was a regular guest of the BBC Orchestra, told Fernhill carers of her wish to sing with a choir again so they arranged for her to take part in the Belmore Lodge event.

Dorrie said afterwards: “I had a very lovely time, it brought back lots of memories.”

Belmore Lodge Companionship Team Leader Sharon Semple said: “We had such a warm welcome from Walhampton school when we attended their fete.

“That visit and their choir’s performance in our garden a couple of weeks before were both lovely experiences for all involved.”

Colten Care celebrates nursing strength on International Nurses Day   

Some of the UK’s oldest retired nurses have celebrated an official day honouring their profession.
Dozens of former nurses who live at our 21 homes in the south joined fellow residents and care team members to mark International Nurses Day.

Cards, gifts, cakes and good wishes were all exchanged to thank current nursing practitioners for all they do and to remember nursing from years gone by.

Nurses Day is celebrated each year on 12 May, the birthday of Florence Nightingale who earned her famous title of ‘the Lady with the Lamp’ nursing wounded soldiers in the Crimean War of 1853 to 1856.

At Avon Cliff care home in Bournemouth, 103-year-old Barbara Binding recalled her years as a children’s nurse looking at photos of herself in uniform just after qualification.

And fellow resident Betty Nelms, 96, a former TB nurse who qualified around the same time as Barbara in the 1940s, said: “I used to go door-to-door to treat people and I loved the job. My work has long finished and I’m just happy to be part of this commemoration.”

Betty’s sentiments were shared by ex-nurses Wendy Golding and Sue McPhee who live at Kingfishers in New Milton.

Wendy said: “Nurses Day is a fantastic way to celebrate the dedication and compassion that nurses bring to their work, reminding us all of the vital role they play in our community.”

Sue said: “Thank you to everyone who made the day extra special.”

All our homes in Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire and West Sussex are registered to provide professional nursing care and all take part in the annual celebration of Nurses Day by presenting gifts, cards and chocolates to the in-house nursing team.

Several homes, including Abbotts Barton in Winchester, Avon Reach in Mudeford and Belmore Lodge in Lymington, organised trips out so that residents could present gifts and cards to nurses working at local GP surgeries and hospitals.

In a further example of community outreach, a party from Woodpeckers in Brockenhurst, led by Home Manager Priya Joseph and Companionship Team Leader Jane Bunker, travelled to Oakhaven Hospice in Lymington with a cake specially baked for the nurses there.

Elaine Farrer, Colten Care’s Chief Operating Officer and a registered nurse herself, said: “Nurses are at the very heart of our homes, giving residents and their families the reassurance of comprehensive, person-centred care from the moment they start their care journeys with us.
“Our strength in nursing is a key reason we have such consistently high ratings from independent bodies such as the public review site Carehome.co.uk and the sector regulator the Care Quality Commission. Indeed, seven of our homes are rated Outstanding by the CQC with the rest all rated Good.

“It’s a great privilege to care for so many residents who were themselves nurses in their  professional lives and who now entrust us with responsibilities for their wellbeing in later life.”

Artful moves as care home residents go hands-on with paint, clay, oil and willow   

Creative residents across our Hampshire and Dorset care home’s have gone hands-on to celebrate a day devoted to visual art.
Our care homes in Poole, West Moors, Mudeford, Sherborne and the New Forest co-ordinated a host of activities inspired by the annual Unesco World Art Day.

There were talks and demonstrations by professional artists, pottery and painting sessions, in-home exhibitions and trips out to see art on display in the community.

At Brook View in West Moors, residents welcomed New Forest-based equine illustrator and author Alan Langford who arrived with easels, paints and brushes ready to give a tutorial.

At Brook View in West Moors, from left: resident Trevor Clark, visiting artist Alan Langford and residents Iona Midlane and Barbara Phillips

Resident Barbara Phillips said she couldn’t wait to show her daughters the picture that Alan helped her with, adding: “I was in awe at how much I’ve learned about art through the course of the afternoon.”
Companion Jo Vardy said: “One of our new residents, Janet White, was so taken with Alan’s style of painting that after a short demonstration on how to paint a landscape, complete with pony of course, she immediately got brush in hand.
“As our residents’ pictures began to take shape, Alan was keen to see the different interpretations and styles used to achieve the final results.

“Everyone had a fabulous and informative afternoon, enthralled with Alan’s stories of the characters he has met throughout his painting career.

“It was lovely to see all who attended laughing in such a relaxed manner. It just goes to show that, no matter your ability, anybody can enjoy and appreciate art.”

Meanwhile, artists from the Christchurch-based pop-up pottery studio The Touring Potter helped residents of Belmore Lodge in Lymington to make and colour clay coasters.

Hands-on at a pottery session at Belmore Lodge in Lymington

At fellow Lymington home Court Lodge, the dining room was transformed into a gallery of work by visiting artist Marion Royle to complement a talk by her.

Resident Barbara Runham, who used to work at Southampton City Art Gallery, said: “Marion is a fantastic artist and bringing all this work here and turning the room around is incredible.”

At Avon Reach in Mudeford, Christchurch, residents were treated to a visit by artist Paul Dolman, known for his fine oil paintings of the local area. Paul gave a demonstration of how to use oil paints during a community ‘tea and togetherness’ afternoon.

At Canford Chase in Poole, the fun centred on the garden with residents making willow hearts and frames which they put on display.

And at Bourne View in Poole, team members organised a minibus trip for residents to the St Barbe Museum in Lymington, complete with lunch and a visit to the gift shop.

With completed paintings at Brook View, from left: residents Pam Roberts, Janet White, Trevor Clark, Pam Clark, Iona Midlane and Barbara Phillips

Resident Wendy Barnes, a former teacher, said: “We enjoyed quietly browsing among the paintings and sculptures, noticing unusual techniques. It was a trip full of ideas and a day to remember.”

World Art Day has been celebrated internationally every year since 2012 on the April birthday of renaissance genius Leonardo Da Vinci.

Colten Care carol singers light up forest of Christmas cheer

More than 30 residents from six of our care homes joined forces to sing carols and entertain visitors at a church Christmas tree festival.
Performers from our homes across the New Forest and Christchurch were in fine voice amid the seasonal fun at St Thomas Church in Lymington.

Under the direction of our Music and Arts Partner, professional musician Fiona Pritchard, the choir sang ten carols, adding the gift of Yuletide music to complement a display that numbered more than 60 Christmas trees.

Fiona said: “It was so lovely to be able to bring all the homes together to sing. They rehearse individually and when they come together, the sound is magical.”

Jack Phillips, a resident at Kingfishers in New Milton, said: “It was a great afternoon, I just had the best day.”

As well as Kingfishers, the singers came from Woodpeckers in Brockenhurst, Avon Reach in Mudeford and the Lymington homes Belmore Lodge, Court Lodge and Linden House.

The festival, organised as an annual fundraiser by the Friends of St Thomas, ran over five days this year with Colten Care once again one of the partners alongside other businesses, organisations and charities.

As well as the opportunity to sing in public, several of our homes organised arts and crafts sessions in the run-up to the festival so that residents could make decorations for some of the trees on display.
“We are proud to support the festival here in Lymington, especially as three of our homes are just minutes away from the church,” said Laura Davis, Marketing and Communications Manager for Colten Care. “The logistics of bringing six homes together to perform is no mean feat, so hats off to all involved.

“Residents told us just how wonderful the day was, how the relatives were there to support and join in, and how the public were wowed by the fact there were so many residents there and how lovely it was to hear them sing. Everyone was joining in. It’s something people will go out and talk about.

“The residents and relatives had a wonderful afternoon and that is at the heart of why we take part.”
Involvement in the St Thomas Church festival is just one of the many ways our residents are celebrating Christmas this year.

A choir representing five of our homes is singing at a public service at St Peter’s Church in Bournemouth in aid of the disability charity Diverse Abilities. They are Fernhill in Longham, Amberwood House in Ferndown and the Poole homes Bourne View, Canford Chase and The Aldbury.

Bourne View is the venue for a separate rooftop carol concert with residents, families and friends from Amberwood House coming along to join in.

Also in the comfort of their own surroundings, residents at Bourne View, Avon Reach and Kingfishers will welcome visits by fellow carol singers on a ‘road trip’ from the Julia’s House hospice charity.

Children from a nearby day nursery will likewise entertain residents at St Catherines View in Winchester with carols.

At Braemar Lodge in Salisbury, residents and staff created a seasonal wreath tree to feature in an annual tree festival at the city’s St Thomas Church which is traditionally attended by thousands of visitors each year.

Across our 21 homes, residents will also enjoy Christmas fetes and fayres, live music, pantomimes, gala lunches and dinners, and a host of festive games and competitions.

Care homes’ sweet move to brighten up Xmas for hundreds of children

Generous residents, families and community supporters have been praised for collecting hundreds of chocolate gifts to brighten up Christmas for less fortunate children.
Voluntary group Chocolate Elf Hampshire spoke of their ‘enormous gratitude’ to the residents, families, team members and other well-wishers at seven Colten Care homes who supported an appeal.

More than 300 selection boxes and advent calendars have been gathered at the homes’ collection points this year, triple the number in 2022.

Chocolate Elf has now taken the gifts for distribution to children across south Hampshire via partners such as the city council children services’ teams in Southampton and Portsmouth, respite homes, refuges, faith groups and the young carers’ charity, Honeypot.

Belmore Lodge residents Brenda Close, left, and Linda Fudge, with some of the gifts gathered from our New Forest homes for Chocolate Elf Hampshire.

Our New Forest homes Belmore Lodge, Court Lodge, Linden House, Woodpeckers and Kingfishers all acted as collection points this year along with Winchester homes Abbotts Barton and St Catherines View.
As he visited Belmore Lodge in Lymington to pick up the New Forest gifts, Chocolate Elf representative Peter Orme said: “Every single donation will transform a child’s day. It’s a humbling experience to see the amount of gifts these amazing care home residents,  staff and contacts have amassed. Along with my fellow volunteers, I can only offer the most enormous gratitude.”
Peter added: “To have increased the number of gifts by so many this year is truly outstanding, even more so when you think of the tough times people are seeing right now with the cost of living. I’m glad I brought the bigger car to collect everything!”

Belmore Lodge residents Brenda Close and Linda Fudge spoke of their reasons for wanting to help.

Brenda said: “I used to work in a women’s refuge as a volunteer and met lots of children who had nothing. Some of the children we’re helping today won’t have any other present this Christmas. This will be their only gift. It’s lovely to do something but help is always needed.”

At Belmore Lodge home in Lymington with New Forest chocolate donations are, from left: Customer Advisors Lynne Thorp, Deborah Davies, Tracy McCallum and Tracy Baker; and Chocolate Elf representative Peter Orme.

Brenda’s thoughts were echoed by Linda who said: “This is a marvellous initiative for Christmas. There are so many children in need and, after all, they didn’t ask to be put in that position.”

The donations will go towards a grand total of more than 5,000 gifts that Chocolate Elf expect to distribute this year.

The gathering of selection boxes and calendars was co-ordinated by the homes’ team of Customer Support Advisors.

Working closely with Home Managers, the advisors act as the first point of contact for prospective residents and relatives, supporting, informing and advising them on all aspects of the journey into care.
Tracy Baker, Customer Support Advisor for Belmore Lodge and Court Lodge, said: “Our residents and their families, and our colleagues and friends in the community, understand the fantastic work that Chocolate Elf does for children in Hampshire and we always want to do our bit to help.

“After we reached out on social media, one lady we know in Brockenhurst dropped off more than 30 calendars from herself and neighbours while another handed in 20.

“Supporting such a worthwhile cause is a further way our residents maintain their community connections.”

Memories for Mo as Belmore Lodge celebrates 20 years on site of family house

An 84-year-old woman from Hampshire, and resident at Belmore Lodge that now occupies the exact spot where her family’s house once stood, joined fellow residents and guests for a delightful 20th-anniversary celebration.
Belmore Lodge in Lymington opened in 2003 following the demolition of two houses originally on the Milford Road site.

One of them, number 20, was the four-bedroom family home, from 1978 to 2001, of Maureen Marks’ in-laws Adrienne and Ted and niece Sandra.

Maureen, known as Mo, and her late husband Bill were regular visitors, enjoying family gatherings including barbecues in the back garden.

Maureen also lived there for several weeks in 1994 when she was between house moves herself.

Number 20 and the next-door property were sold in 2001, after which Colten Developments demolished the buildings to pave the way for arts and crafts-themed Belmore Lodge.

At Belmore Lodge for the opening of the Lymington home’s 20th anniversary exhibition are, standing from left: former Lymington Mayor Consort and Mayor, Graham and Jane Clarke; Colten Care Operations Manager Peter Doyle; Home Manager Janie Wilkins; Colten Care Executive Chairman Ian Hudson; and visitor Sandra Paice, niece of resident Maureen Marks who is seated far right. Seated either side of the table are Maureen’s sister-in-law Adrienne Marks, right, and fellow Belmore Lodge resident Louisa McIntyre.

Twenty years on from its official opening, Maureen, Adrienne and Sandra joined Belmore Lodge residents and well-wishers for an anniversary celebration.

The centrepiece was the opening of a week-long exhibition in the home’s Botanical Lounge, with photos, news cuttings and other memorabilia charting two decades of community care and local Lymington history.

Maureen, whose family members ran the Lymington bakers’ business Marks Bakery from 1972 to 1996, moved to Belmore Lodge eleven years ago.

“This is a really nice, homely place to live in,” she said. “I can’t believe it’s been so long. I feel like I’m part of the furniture now.”

Sister-in-law Adrienne said: “Time has flown by and, although it does feel strange, there is a sense of reassurance for us that Maureen lives on the same spot where our home was. The Belmore Lodge driveway is even in the same place ours used to be.”

Niece Sandra said: “I grew up and flew the nest from here so it has lots of memories.”

The exhibition was launched by former Lymington Mayor Jane Clarke who, in her Mayoral capacity, officially opened Belmore Lodge in 2003.

“I remember thinking it was a lovely home then,” said Jane. “I recall I had just opened some public toilets in Lymington earlier in the day and thinking this was rather more upmarket!”
Also attending the launch was Ian Hudson, Colten Care’s Executive Chairman, who said: “Colten Developments originally had planning permission for a block of flats but we were told that local doctors wanted more nursing homes in the Lymington area. That was the thinking behind Belmore Lodge being developed, owned and run by Colten Care, offering 55 bedrooms. It was the 13th home we opened.”

The 20th anniversary of Colten Care’s Belmore Lodge coincided with the 75th birthday of Ian Hudson, the care home provider’s Executive Chairman. With him to toast the occasion is Home Manager Janie Wilkins.

The exhibition launch party coincided with Ian’s 75th birthday so Home Manager Janie Wilkins took the opportunity to arrange a cake and presentation for him.

A professional accountant, Ian said: “I joined Colten Care aged 40 and so have spent 35 years at the company. I love working for Colten Care. It’s happy days because it doesn’t feel like work.”

Other Colten colleagues with long-standing associations with Belmore Lodge include Chef Gary Parsons, currently in his 25th year with the company, and Nurse Priya Joseph who is now the Home Manager at Brockenhurst care home Woodpeckers.

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 www.macmillan.org.uk.

Colten Care residents honour ‘superstar’ carers with Champions awards

Hundreds of residents from our 21 care homes have honoured the staff who enable them to live the best lives they can every day.
Colten Care’s Champions awards prompted nominations across nine categories reflecting a range of clinical and non-clinical care.

Individuals, teams, homes and departments were all recognised as the annual scheme culminated in a glittering evening at Bournemouth’s Highcliff Marriott Hotel.

Around 140 guests dressed up in style for the awards ceremony and celebration, hosted by TV presenter Dr Hilary Jones.

Nominees and audience members mingled at a welcome reception before stepping into a specially decorated ballroom for dinner, the ceremony itself and the opportunity to dance the night away.

[caption id="attachment_13325" align="alignnone" width="1314"] AWARD. Lucy O’Brien, Senior Administrator at Bourne View in Poole, won the Warm Welcome award. With her is Dr Hilary Jones, who hosted the Colten Champions evening, and Elaine Sheppard, Head of Customer Support.[/caption]

Colten Care residents were represented by special guest Jean Smith, who lives in Poole home Bourne View.

She had previously met Dr Hilary at the home’s official opening in spring 2019 when her late husband, former Poole Mayor Ray Smith MBE, became the first resident to move in.

Catching up with the broadcaster and author once again as they stood on stage, Jean said: “I can’t believe I’m here.”

She then presented Rosa Santos, Senior Care Lead at Newstone House in Sturminster Newton, with the inaugural award for Resident and Relative Choice.

This category, which attracted more than 500 nominations from residents and families, was designed to recognise an individual or team ‘who have truly made a difference to your life or your loved one’s life since coming to Colten Care’.

The common theme for Rosa’s multiple nominations was her ‘kind and welcoming approach to both residents and relatives. Rosa has patience to understand residents needs so well which has such a positive outcome for their care’.
One relative wrote: “It is always a please to see Rosa on duty, she cared for my mother and father with such cheerfulness, she would make sure my father was helped upstairs to spend time with my mother when they were on different floors. She works hard to ensure our family are kept informed, added to this her professionalism and positive attitude.”
Among other category winners, Lucy O’Brien, Senior Administrator at Bourne View, who won the Warm Welcome award, described the moment her name was read out.

She said: “It was amazing, a total surprise. I was in a complete daze and then got quite emotional. It was lovely to go up and receive the award in front of everyone and meet Hilary Jones.”

[caption id="attachment_13326" align="alignnone" width="1262"] Colten Care resident Jean Smith, right, was Honorary Guest at the Colten Champions awards. She presented the inaugural Resident and Relative Choice award to Rosa Santos, Senior Care Lead at Newstone House in Sturminster Newton. With them is awards host and TV presenter Dr Hilary Jones.[/caption]
Colten Care Chief Executive Mark Aitchison said: “Colten Champions celebrates the pride and passion our amazing team shows every single day, caring for our residents and their families.

“It is an immense privilege to lead a team full of superstars, always prepared to go above and beyond.

“We thank everyone who put in a Colten Champions nomination and congratulate all the winners, finalists and nominees.”
Mark’s comments were echoed by Colten Care’s Chief Operating Officer Elaine Farrer, who added: “There are so many shining examples of our team supporting and caring for residents, embodying our values and consistently putting the resident at the very heart of all they do.”

After the ceremony, Dr Hilary said: “Colten Champions truly reflects the importance of quality care delivered by a team working together for the benefit of residents. It’s a great initiative and the awards evening is always such a happy occasion.”

As well as the Champions awards themselves, special congratulations were given on stage to Elena Barna, Home Manager at Abbey View in Sherborne, for the home’s recent Outstanding rating from sector regulator the Care Quality Commission.

It means that seven of Colten Care’s 21 homes in Dorset, Hampshire, Wiltshire and West Sussex are officially rated Outstanding, with all the rest rated Good.

Astonished & Overjoyed To ‘Host’ Her Son’s Wedding

To enable one of our residents to see her son exchange vows with his fiancée, we secretly transformed their room into a beautiful wedding chapel,
Janet Towers, is no longer able to travel. But it was her dearest wish to see her son John Towers’ wedding to his partner Sarah-jane.
Janie Wilkins, Home Manager of Belmore Lodge said: “When we learned that Janet may have to miss the wedding, we knew that simply wouldn’t do.

“So, we told a little fib and asked Janet if we could dress her room for a marketing promotion, to show how we can accommodate special occasions.

“Janet agreed and this gave us the opportunity to transform her room and of course dress her accordingly, as the beautiful Mother of the Groom!

“One significant detail was left out though, and that was that we would be re-creating John’s upcoming wedding.”
Janet’s room was adorned with flowers and had a wedding arch.

“Just before the ‘photoshoot’ I told Janet we had a surprise and gave her the order of service for John’s wedding,” continued Janie.

“She said: “But I can’t go!” and I said: “No, so they are coming to you!

“When John and Sarah-jane came into the room, with Sarah-jane’s two other sons Joshua and Gabriel, everyone was so overwhelmed and emotional.

“We left them together for a few minutes to hug and compose themselves.”

The happy couple went on to read the same vows they would say be saying in their Register Office ceremony and exchanged rings. There was also a reading by one of Janet’s fellow residents, Davina Shelley.

“It was absolutely beautiful with lots of happy tears and of course Janet was overjoyed,” said Janie.

Everyone then enjoyed cake and toasted the newlyweds with pink fizz.

Janet said: “I had no idea this was going to happen, but I can’t thank everyone enough.

“I didn’t think I would be able to part of John and Sarah-jane’s wedding, but I was, and I loved every single moment of it. Thank you so much to everyone who made my wish possible.”

Janet’s son John said: “My wife and I are extremely grateful to Janie and all the staff at Belmore Lodge who made our special day so memorable. To have mum at our wedding was truly the icing on the cake (wedding)!”
Janie continued: “At Colten Care we always try to achieve the impossible, ensuring that our residents continue to live a fulfilled life surrounded by their family and friends.

“We all feel deeply privileged to have been able to see Janet share this precious day with John and Sarah-jane.

“And in an added twist, we have also been delighted to welcome a new ‘Mrs Towers’ to Belmore Lodge:

“Sarah-jane has been so impressed by everything she has seen at Belmore Lodge she has joined our Companionship team and will now be spending even more time with her new mum-in-law Janet.”

Welcoming Ducklings To The World

A trio of ducklings have been brought safely into the world thanks to some tender love and attention from residents at our homes.
The new arrivals stole the limelight in the home after hatching out of their eggs in an incubator.
Resident Dorothy Elson said: “Some of us had ducks when we were younger so this took us down memory lane.

“It was truly wonderful to see them emerge and experience their first few days of life.”
Companionship Team Leader Sharon Semple said: “We think we had one boy and two girls – as the two girls were very bossy!

“We had various names for them but we settled on Ian for the boy and Julia and Ginger for the girls.

“We gave them their first bath a few days before they left us. It gave us an excuse to have another lovely cuddle with them when we were drying them off.

“It was brilliant for our residents to have the eggs and incubator here. There are lots of residents at Colten Care who grew up on farms or had animals when they were younger and they love the idea of seeing chicks being born.

“Julia, Ginger and Ian have now gone to live with a friend of one of our team members. We know they will be well looked after and we’ll be staying up to date on their progress.”


Residents and staff at some of our sister homes have also been hatching chicks and duck eggs this spring, with several new arrivals being born in incubators at Court Lodge in Lymington and Newstone House in Sturminster Newton, Dorset.

The babies tend to stay for up to two weeks before going to a permanent home.