Messages of love as care home residents celebrate Valentine’s Day  

Hundreds of our care home residents found heartfelt ways to have fun on Valentine’s Day.
Our 21 Colten Care homes in Dorset, Hampshire, West Sussex and Wiltshire laid on events, activities and get-togethers to mark the annual celebration of love and romance.

At The Aldbury, a dedicated dementia care home in Poole, the residents’ garden group took the lead with an art project involving 100 pebbles.

These originally formed one of a series of installations that residents worked on to coincide with King Charles’ Coronation last year.

Several weeks ago, the group decided to repurpose the stones, paint them red and white and invite fellow residents and staff to inscribe and sign personal thoughts on them for loved ones to read when they visit the home.

Rearranged in a heart shape ready for Valentine’s Day, 70 of the stones are painted red and carry the words and signatures, with 30 coloured white and positioned around the outside.

Among the special greetings to family and friends are sentiments such as ‘Love never fails’, ‘You call it madness, I call it love’ and ‘Roses are red, violets are blue, what I wouldn’t give to have a cuddle with you!’.

On a pebble inscribed for her daughter, resident Jean Sandoe wrote: ‘I am very proud that you have accomplished your dream to become a nurse’.

Sue Miles, The Aldbury’s Companionship Team Leader, said: “We call our new artwork ‘Written from our hearts’. It took us several weeks to put it together. The garden group were discussing how we could repurpose the pebbles we had from the Coronation last year and we thought this would be a lovely idea for a Valentine’s celebration.

“Residents, staff and visitors can have a read of them whenever they are taking a stroll in the garden.”

Around 25 residents and 15 staff responded to the idea by adding messages to the stones.

Resident Valerie Sharpe who helped place the finished pebbles into the heart shape in the garden, said: “We always have good ideas.”

At Colten Care’s Bourne View in Poole, a ‘production line’ of residents and team members created 50 individual cards in the run-up to Valentine’s.

On the big day, the cards were placed on dining tables and lunch trays together with flowers and heart shaped chocolates.

Two of the home’s couples, June and Keith Osborne and Margaret and Albert Langworthy, were also treated to chocolates, tulips and special greetings to help them celebrate. June and Keith’s card featured a black and white photo from their wedding day.

Companionship Team member Julie Wathen said: “There were smiles all round as everyone enjoyed the treats.”

Among Valentine’s parties elsewhere at Colten Care, dementia care home Fernhill in Longham, Dorset, held an afternoon of ‘music, dancing, flowers, chocolate, romance and celebration’.

Heartfelt comments included one from resident Margo Johnson who said to her husband Anthony: “Thank you for loving me,’ while Dori Smith said: “I wasn’t expecting to receive a rose today.”

At Abbey View in Sherborne, couple Roy and Barbara Carne, who have been married for more than 67 years, enjoyed a romantic lunch.

‘He understood people’: Colten Care residents honour Rabbie Burns on festive day

Hundreds of our residents across our 21 care homes across the south savoured a taste of Scotland as they celebrated Burns Night in honour of 18th century bard Rabbie Burns.
Poetry recitals, songs, games, whisky tasting and dancing were the order of the day along with festive lunches and suppers featuring haggis, neeps and tatties.

Nowhere was the celebration more heartfelt than at Braemar Lodge Care Home in Salisbury.

Burns enthusiast Annie Miller, who was born and brought up in the same county, Ayrshire, as the world-famous poet, had the honour of saying the traditional pre-supper Selkirk Grace watched by fellow residents, team members and visiting guests.

Annie read out the words of the prayer: ‘Some hae meat and canna eat, And some wad eat that want it, But we hae meat and we can eat, Sae let the Lord be Thankit!’
Asked about the enduring importance of Burns Night, Annie said she had celebrated it here and overseas throughout her life, adding: “He was a young man who died in 1796, before he was 40, yet in every country of the world, more than 200 years later, his birth is celebrated.

“I am very fond of him and his poetry. He really understood people. Burns Night is a great excuse to get together.”
The ceremonial haggis was piped into Braemar Lodge by Pipe Sergeant Keith Turner of the Wiltshire Caledonian Pipes & Drums.

Wearing a kilt of Stewart Grey tartan, Keith played a rendition of Burns’ song ‘A Man’s A Man for A’ That’ and, clapped along by the assembled company, ‘Scotland The Brave’, often considered Scotland’s ‘unofficial national anthem’.
Keith said: “Burns Night is a very significant occasion, honouring one of Scotland’s best known people. It’s a unique Scottish tradition.”
He added that the Wiltshire Caledonian Pipes & Drums currently has members aged from twelve to 72 and is always on the lookout for new pipers and drummers to join.

“I’d say it generally takes a year to learn how to play the bagpipes,” Keith said.

The ceremonial address to the haggis was performed by Graham Ballard, Companionship Team Leader, who said afterwards: “It was a joy to get into the spirit of the occasion. Burns Night is a firm favourite with residents whether they are from north or south of the border.”

Among other Burns Night celebrations at Kingfishers Care Home in New Milton welcomed a performance by the New Forest Scottish Country Dancers while at Linden House Dementia Care Home in Lymington, party goers sampled the traditional Scottish dessert of Cranachan.

In Dorset meanwhile, residents at Brook View Care Home in West Moors tucked into cock-a-leekie soup and clootie dumplings along with other Scottish delicacies.

And at Whitecliffe House Care Home in Blandford, residents and team members turned a Burns poetry reading into the first meeting of a newly founded poetry club at the home.

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.

Host of fun as Kingfishers care home celebrates team’s cultural diversity

Team members from six different countries helped Kingfishers care home celebrate a day devoted to cultural diversity.
Colleagues from India, Portugal, Thailand, China, Germany and the Philippines joined families and residents at Kingfishers in New Milton for a host of multicultural festivities.

The fun featured music, dancing, national costumes, traditional foodie treats and presentations with interesting facts about different regions and countries.

Companionship Team Leader Rose Arcellana, who is from the Philippines, said: “Our team is very cosmopolitan with staff members representing a lot of different nationalities. We thought it would be a great idea to get together and share a flavour of our backgrounds and home countries.
“The dances included a Philippine candle dance I performed with my compatriot Joy Condino, our Senior Care Lead.

“On the culinary side, our Portuguese Waitress Julieta Caires prepared a delicious dish of pork with garlic bread and potatoes served with a glass of sangria.

“This was a memorable afternoon for our residents. They loved the colour, the costumes, the dancing and the food.”

Resident Jeanne Wynn said: “It was amazing to see the staff showcasing their cultures and sharing them with us. My fellow residents and I thought it was fantastic.”

As well as the Philippines and Portugal, the countries represented were: China, by Senior Care Lead Faye Suenfa; India, by Health Carer Assistant Nanda Venugopalan; Thailand, by Health Care Assistant Noi Bayliss; and Germany, by Companionship Team member Christina Holliday.
Kingfishers Home Manager Zoe Mills said: “Having a truly multicultural team from so many backgrounds enables us to share experiences, skills and knowledge that enrich our workplace and our engagement with residents and their families. That’s certainly something to celebrate.”

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.

Anniversary party turns the clock back at The Aldbury dedicated dementia care home

Twenty years of dedicated dementia care were celebrated as The Aldbury in Poole held a sparkling anniversary party.
Fancy dress festivities in the garden of the purpose-built home featured the theme of icons of yesteryear.

The Aldbury’s 20th anniversary party had the theme of icons of yesteryear, with guests invited to dress up as their favourites

Home Manager Sam Reid came as Daphne from Scooby Doo while colleagues dressed up as, among others, Audrey Hepburn, Elton John, Elvis Presley and Janis Joplin.

Entertainment from singer Kelly prompted singalongs and dancing as guests sampled glasses of fizz and tucked into sweet and savoury tasty treats including an anniversary cake specially baked by Chef Izzy Turczyn-Kuzma.
Home Manager Sam said: “The cutting of the cake was the ideal opportunity for residents, staff and visitors to come together and sing Happy 20th Birthday to our home.
“It was a lovely afternoon and a chance to celebrate with around 25 friends, former members of staff and of course our current residents and their families.”

The party also featured a lucky dip in aid of the Little Lives children’s charity.

The Aldbury resident Valerie Short dancing with Housekeeper Ida Gray

Four staff from when The Aldbury opened in 2003 are still employed at the home: Poppi Kgongoane, Duagsuda Odey, Kanya Branon and Suzanne Pollard. Their roles are Staff Nurse, Healthcare Assistant, Housekeeper and Kitchen Assistant respectively.

Bourne View care home’s community party hits the heights

Charity leaders, neighbours and community friends were among 25 special guests at a rooftop terrace party to welcome the new manager of Bourne View care home in Poole.
Gemma Parkin has taken over the reins of the art deco-themed home after two years in other care and management roles with Colten Care.

She was the centre of attention as residents and guests chatted over canapes in the evening air and enjoyed live classical music and film themes performed by the Dorset String Quartet.

The get-together helped to raise more than £200 for the Diverse Abilities charity which runs the next door Langside School.
Weymouth-born Gemma, previously the Home Manager of The Aldbury dedicated dementia care home in Poole, said: “Our rooftop party was a huge success.

“Community members, residents and relatives had a wonderful time. We are proud to work with local charities and will continue to support Diverse Abilities in the future.”
Mark Powell, Chief Executive of Diverse Abilities, said: “Blessed by beautiful weather, the residents and guests had such a pleasant experience in a truly fantastic building and with an incredible team.

“It was a lovely evening with the proceeds contributing to the important funds we need as a charity to support people with disabilities.

“We can’t thank the Colten Care team enough for their support and the work that they do.”

As well as Gemma, the event served as a community introduction to Bourne View’s new Clinical Lead, Sherry Hufano.

Residents at the home spoke afterwards about how much they enjoyed the party.
Peter Prior said: “It was lovely. The staff went to so much trouble. Everything they do is always perfectly done. I particularly enjoyed the music and the canapes were delicious.”
Muriel Brown, who attended with her daughter Barbara, a classical musician, said: “It was a lovely evening. Everything just flowed and was very relaxed. The food was superb and we were able to chat to people around us. The music was wonderful.”

Morris dancers on front foot for Woodpeckers garden celebration

Colourful Morris dancers brought music, movement and merriment to a Woodpeckers care home as residents and staff celebrated the latest addition to their nationally recognised garden.
Traditional English folk dances performed by the New Forest Meddlars prompted smiles all round among the open-air audience at Woodpeckers Care Home in Brockenhurst.

It was part of a day of celebrations to mark the opening of the home’s new greenhouse, enabling residents to enjoy hands-on gardening activities all year round.

Accompanied by three accordions and a flute, and proudly holding their sticks and handkerchiefs, half a dozen Meddlars delighted the spectators with their rhythmic stepping and ornate costumes featuring waistcoats, beads and bells.

The culmination of the event came as Woodpeckers’ Sheila Burn cut the ribbon to officially open the greenhouse.

Moments later, fellow resident Georgina Chesters gave it a public blessing, declaring: “God bless this greenhouse and all that grows in it.”

The performers then gave the greenhouse a ‘Morris seal of approval’ by dancing through and around it several times.

They were joined in their performance by Bumble, the mascot of young carers’ charity Honeypot, a community cause supported by both the Meddlars and Woodpeckers.

Among those taking in the spectacle of Morris dancers choreographing moves with a giant bumble bee in tow was Woodpeckers resident and gardening enthusiast Richard Bavister.

“This is a day of celebration,” Richard said. “The garden is already wonderful – my room looks out on beautiful magnolia trees – and I am now looking forward to spending a lot of time in the greenhouse planting seedlings and potting up plants.”

The get-together came ahead of two public open days Woodpeckers is hosting this year under the prestigious National Garden Scheme (NGS).

Visitors will be able to tour the whole garden and go inside the greenhouse on the weekend of 2nd and 3rd September 2023.
Woodpeckers’ Senior Gardener Chris Marsh said: “There is a strong gardening culture here at Woodpeckers. It is integral to the whole home especially in the summer.
“The wheelchair-friendly greenhouse is the newest addition to the garden, somewhere we can keep plants fresh, do cuttings from our salvias and hydrangeas and so on, and keep seedlings.

“Residents will be able to come in independently and do potting at their leisure whatever the weather.

“The greenhouse will also support the activities of our garden club and host the charity plant stall when we have events here such as the NGS days.”

Home Manager Priya Joseph said: “Our garden is not just a pretty space. It is used every day by residents to increase mobility, stay active and help mental health.

“The garden is an extension of the rest of the home and the new greenhouse strengthens the message that it is for everyone, even in wet weather.”

Morris Dancer Dave Ellis, who led the Meddlars as ‘squire for the day’, said: “This is our first time here. We’ve had a great turnout and enjoyed ourselves very much. It’s a lovely setting, a beautiful garden and clearly a very nice home for all the residents.”

Summer jazz heralds launch of care home’s ‘absolutely marvellous’ roof garden

Residents, families and team members at our New Forest dementia care home have celebrated the official opening of a rooftop garden terrace with a ‘sounds of summer’ party.
More than 50 guests, including community health contacts, enjoyed the afternoon fun at Linden House in the heart of Lymington.

Over canapes and glasses of fizz, they toured the open-air space serenaded by solo alto-sax player Claire Manners who breezed through a series of jazz standards such as Fly Me to the Moon and Stranger on the Shore.

The terrace completes a second-storey extension to the New Street building which adds 15 extra en suite bedrooms to the Beaulieu House floor along with a craft room and activity space.

With 75 bedrooms in all, Linden House has become the largest of Colten Care’s 21 homes across the south.

The outdoor terrace is designed as a safe, inspiring space, complete with decking, sofas and wicker chairs, and featuring shrubs and flowers with seasonal highlights to look out for.

Resident Mary Hughes and her daughter Glynis Evans took in the party atmosphere from the comfort of an outdoor sofa by the Beaulieu House craft room.
Mary said: “The terrace is beautiful, absolutely marvellous. I wish I’d had something like this at my family home.”
Glynis said: “This is a lovely space for any resident who wants to come outside for some fresh air.

“It gives you the feeling of going back to nature while being right on the top of a building.”

Senior Gardener Chris Marsh, who is responsible for our New Forest gardens and those at homes in Winchester, Chichester and Salisbury, explained the design of the rooftop space from the nature point of view.
Chris said: “It’s designed for hot and dry conditions. We’ve chosen a mix of big, bold colours, including lilies, petunias, dahlias and osteospermum, and many herbs and fragrances to appeal to the senses.
“When winter arrives, the evergreen plants, such as variegated lavender, will come into their own.

“Residents will also enjoy late winter bulbs such as daffodils, tulips and cyclamen.”

Lorraine Bell, Linden House Home Manager, said: “Our rooftop terrace is there to help our residents stay connected with the outdoors.

“This is a beautiful, engaging space that residents and families will really enjoying spending time in as they appreciate the plants and fresh air.”

As well as celebrating the launch of the terrace, Lorraine used her speech of welcome to thank two colleagues for their support, presenting both with bouquets of flowers.

She paid tribute to Companionship Team member Chris Dimmick for 28 years’ service to Colten Care, including periods as a Home Manager at two Lymington homes, Belmore Lodge and the former Monmouth House.

And Deborah Davies, Customer Support Advisor, received thanks for helping to organise the rooftop celebration.
Elaine Farrer, Colten Care’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “Many of our residents have enjoyed a love of gardens and gardening throughout their lives.
“To ensure this passion continues, we strive to make our outdoor living spaces accessible, interactive and stimulating.

“Our gardening team brings expertise in designing and maintaining gardens that are both calming and revitalising, with plenty of visual and sensory interest.

“We have more than 23,000 sq m of garden space across our 21 homes and are constantly taking forward new projects as well as ongoing maintenance.

“At Linden House and our other dedicated dementia care homes, gardens are specifically designed for easy navigation and staying in tune with the changing seasons.”

‘Longest living’ identical twins celebrate 100 years of sisterhood

One of the UK’s longest living pairs of twins, and possibly the oldest identical pair, have celebrated their 100th birthdays in style at one of our Dorset Care Homes.
Devoted sisters Joan and Peggy Barter are thought to be among only four sets of twin centenarians in the whole country and are almost certainly the oldest identical twins in the south of England.

In matching tiaras, blue dresses and glittering gold sashes proclaiming ‘100 & Fabulous’, they were naturally the joint centre of attention at their birthday party at The Aldbury Dementia Care Home in Poole.

Guests included Robin Ponting, grandson of the twins’ cousin Doris Ponting whose life was further proof of the family’s longevity. Born in 1898, Doris passed away aged 106 in 2004 having lived in three centuries.

In a heartfelt speech at the party, Robin recalled visiting the twins when he was a boy and, much later, the pair of them attending family celebrations such as Doris’s birthdays and his parents John and Elizabeth’s golden wedding.
He said: “Joan and Peggy may be distant relatives on my father’s side but in reality they have always been close family and we saw them frequently on visits.

“They have always looked after each other. There is something so very special about these two, a lifelong bond and understanding.

“On occasion, when they wanted to speak privately in company, they would speak French to each other like a secret code.”
Joan and Peggy were born in 1923 on the outskirts of Bath where their father Clem ran a hardware and clothing shop and their mother Doss was a housewife.

Robin has cherished memories of trips to see them.
Robin said: “Doss and Clem were the kindest of people whenever we visited. I was absolutely spoilt with chocolate biscuits each time, much to the envy of Joan and Peggy.”
The twins attended schools and colleges in Bath before leaving to take up their separate careers. Joan became a teacher, eventually moving to Sherborne and becoming head of a girls’ school.

“I was told by former pupils that Joan was firm but fair and would do anything to help them,” said Robin.

Peggy took up a post as a radiographer in a Birmingham hospital.

With their respective retirements coinciding with each other, Peggy returned south to join Joan in her house in Sherborne.

Robin said: “Peggy’s retirement present was a new kitchen while Joan’s was a baby grand piano which just fitted in to the front room. Joan would go on teach starter piano lessons from home for many years.”

Identical twins Peggy and Joan Barter, right and second from right respectively, at the 103rd birthday of their cousin Doris Ponting, seated centre, in 2001. With them are Doris’s grandson Robin Ponting, second from left, and his parents Elizabeth and John.

As time went on, it became clear that old age was starting to adversely affect the twins’ ability to live at home.

They first moved to our Sherborne care home, Abbey View, for respite care, eventually making the transition to full time care there and later at Newstone House, the provider’s home in Sturminster Newton.

Robin said: “There have always been caring and sensitive discussions about their best interests, with the move to Newstone House being chosen because it had facilities more tailored to their changing needs.

“They spent several happy years there before their eventual move to dedicated dementia care at The Aldbury four years ago.

“It reflects the progression of their journey with dementia, while receiving the very best of care available and still getting the best out of life.

“The teams in Abbey View, Newstone House and The Aldbury have proved time and time again that they give professional care and help, both to the twins, and to help and advise myself and family members.

“Their unstinting support has been continuous, always looking for the very best solutions when there have been additional challenges. Both as individuals and as a group, Colten Care staff are firmly and unquestionably part of our own family.”  

Melissa Siat of The Aldbury Companionship team said: “When we asked the twins how they would like to celebrate their birthdays, Peggy said ‘It would be nice to have some of our relatives around and have a piano concert’.

“Joan didn’t say anything but Peggy knew that her twin sister loves listening to piano music as she used to play and teach the piano.”

As a birthday surprise, Melissa and colleagues arranged for piano tuner Jonathan Pope to make sure The Aldbury’s lounge piano was in tip top shape and invited professional musician Caroline Pugh to come and play at the party.

Amid disco lights, banners, balloons and old photos, Caroline performed hits from the 1950s and 60s including a selection of the twins’ favourites.

Melissa added: “Peggy was smiling and singing along to ‘You Are My Sunshine’. A full house of staff and residents attended the party, singing and dancing, shaking the shakers and pom poms, swaying ribbons and having a lot of fun.

Peggy Barter on her 100th birthday.

“Our Chef Izzy Turczyn-Kuzma baked a beautifully decorated cake and the twins got dressed up and had their hair done by one of our Healthcare Assistants, Maureen Gostling. They really did look fabulous.

“Robin’s heartfelt speech brought happy tears to quite a few of us. He introduced the twins and gave a background history. He said he couldn’t think of a better home for Peggy and Joan. They are so well looked after and he feels reassured that they are both in very good hands.”

According to publicly available national statistics, the longest living twins in the UK, Elma Harris and Thelma Barratt, celebrated their 103rd birthdays in August 2022 in Stockport, Cheshire, and Kirkham, Lancashire, respectively.

Melissa added: “Based on our own research, we believe Joan and Peggy may be the longest-living identical twins in the country. They are certainly the oldest twins in Dorset!”

When Joan and Peggy were born in summer 1923, Britain was a nation still recovering from the devastation of the First World War and the global Spanish flu epidemic.

It was only five years after the long-running suffragettes’ campaign had finally changed the law to secure women’s voting rights.

Commercial air travel was in its infancy, cinemas continued to show silent films and it would be another six years before the first test transmission of a black and white BBC television signal.

Must-have children’s toys in 1923 included spinning tops, marbles and tiddlywinks.