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 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.”

Love is in the air as our homes prepare for Valentine’s Day

Residents are set to celebrate Valentine’s Day with romantic lunches, parties, live music and community greetings
Hearts, flowers, bubbly, cards and chocolates will all feature in the fun as homes enter the romantic spirit.

Here at Belmore Lodge, pianist Mark Busell will entertain residents at a Valentine’s-themed afternoon tea. A raffle will be held in aid of the home’s nominated charity, the Lymington Dogs Trust.

Residents  have also been making heart decorations featuring photos and wording about loved ones. These will be put on display on a ‘Sweetheart Tree’ in the home.

At Linden House, around eleven couples have been invited to an afternoon tea party in the home’s sun lounge. The room and tables will be decorated Valentine’s-style and soft music will be played in the background to create a romantic mood.

Residents at Court Lodge are taking a community-themed approach to Valentine’s Day. In a ‘random act of kindness’ they are writing messages with loving words, attaching them to roses and sharing them with the community in nearby Woodside Park.

Here at Kingfishers, the fun includes a Valentine’s party with live entertainment from the Land Girls, a sherry and wine social, a special lunch and a bingo afternoon.

Woodpeckers is staging an ‘Art With Heart’ exhibition featuring works by residents intended to represent love.

The home has asked Brockenhurst Primary School, Brockenhurst College and other Colten New Forest homes to contribute entries too.
Guests coming to the show on Valentine’s Day will also have the chance to enjoy a heart-themed afternoon tea. Donations will go to the Honeypot children charity.

[caption id="attachment_4573" align="alignnone" width="768"] Brook View residents and married couple Audrey and David Vincent enjoy their romantic lunch on Valentine’s Day[/caption]

At Avon Reach, staff are decorating the home with love hearts and inviting residents to tuck into a high tea. A raffle on the day will raise funds for Macmillan Caring Locally.

Two resident couples at Brook View, Trevor and Pam and Audrey and David, will enjoy romantic-themed meals in the dining room.

At Avon Cliff, residents and staff are being encouraged to wear red or pink at a tea dance. There will also be a ‘luxury high tea’ accompanied by the gentle sounds of live harp music.

Valentine’s Day will also be celebrated at our homes further afield. Residents at St Catherines View in Winchester will welcome toddlers from the nearby Topps Day Nursery for chocolate-making fun.

The youngsters will be taking home the treats to give to their mums and dads afterwards as Valentine’s gifts.

At Whitecliffe House in Blandford, staff will deliver roses and sweets to all residents. In the afternoon, residents will come together to listen to favourite love songs and share memories of Valentine’s Day and loved ones.

‘Enchanted forest’ gives our residents an early taste of Christmas magic

Residents from our New Forest care homes took the chance to decorate Christmas trees they contributed to a Lymington church festival
Parties from our homes in Lymington and New Milton were joined by our residents to add colour and sparkle to their trees at St Thomas Church.

They then returned a couple of days later to admire the full community collection of more than 60 trees going on public display in what the church described as an ‘enchanted forest’.

Colten Care was among the businesses, organisations and charities to partner on the Christmas Tree Festival, creating a hands-on opportunity for its residents to support a community cause.

As well as viewing the display, our residents enjoyed tea and cake and live music performed by Milford West Gallery Quire and the Forestina Concertina Group.
Court Lodge resident Joy Blackmore said: “It was so lovely to be a part of something so traditional and like old times. I had such a wonderful afternoon.”
Our Chief Operating Officer, Elaine Farrer, said: “Our residents have had a magical time being involved in the festival, preparing their trees in advance and visiting again for the opening.

“They had great fun looking through the collection knowing that hidden amid the sea of tinsel, lights and baubles they would find a tree of their very own.”