Pedal to the metal as June goes full throttle on UK’s fastest racetrack

An 87-year-old Braemar Lodge resident had a ‘grand prix’ wish come true when she drove a racing car round several laps of the UK’s fastest racetrack.
Motor sport enthusiast June Swindell told carers at Braemar Lodge in Salisbury of her lifelong desire to don a driver’s crash helmet and take the wheel of a competitive car at speed.

They contacted the team at Thruxton Circuit near Andover who laid on a special driving experience for the delighted former secretary.

After a safety briefing, June had her first taste of the track by completing five laps in a silver Porsche Cayman accompanied by an instructor.

She was then fitted with a helmet and guided into the driving position of a bright orange single-seat Sports 2000 racing car.

Track staff padded up the back of the driver’s seat so June could safely reach the pedals.

She did a pair of laps, touching 80 mph and waving to onlookers including Braemar Lodge Companionship Team member Kelly Bartlett and minibus driver Nick Meyers, who had brought her to the circuit.

Kelly said: “June is an experienced driver, with a car of her own that she still drives regularly, but this was a different experience altogether. It was the first time in her life that she had driven a racing car, something she’s told us she’d thought about often.

“As she waved to us at the end of the second lap, she missed the direction to go back into the pits, so ended up doing an extra lap! I don’t know if she meant to or not, she was just having so much fun.”

After her solo stint, June accepted an invite to be the passenger in an even faster two-seat Ford Focus ST sports car driven by one of the Thruxton team. The pair reached speeds of up to 100 mph going into corners and more than 130 mph on the straight.
“I can’t believe this experience has actually happened,” said Cornish-born June, who was a secretary at a shipping company in Southampton and has lived at Braemar Lodge since last year. “I absolutely loved it. It’s amazing that it went from a conversation with a carer to the fact I got to do the racing. Everyone we met at the track was incredibly welcoming and generous with their time. Thank you to all involved. I’m so grateful and I’d love to do it all again.”
Aside from being a keen motor racing fan, June’s hobbies include the more sedate pastime of playing bridge with a circle of friends.

“June was just lovely,” said Thruxton Sales Administrator Carol Johnson, known around the track as ‘CJ’. “You could see she was having a ball. We all enjoyed having her here. She is a lady with a true zest for life.”

Thruxton is widely accepted as being the fastest racetrack in the country due to its many high-speed corners.

Converted from a wartime airfield in 1950, it is known as the ‘drivers circuit’ with regular users reporting a 155-mph top speed in race conditions and a 115-mph average speed.

The circuit is popular among racing fans for hosting British Touring Car Championship and Superbike events.

Salisbury care home fundraisers learn how top dogs transform lives

Three people whose lives have been transformed by guide dogs called in to our Salisbury care home to thank residents and staff for contributing £1,400 to the charity that supports them.
Katie Ransby, Justin Wright and Richard Burt met with residents and team members at Braemar Lodge in Salisbury, Wiltshire.

The visit was the culmination of the home’s year-long fundraising campaign for the Salisbury & District branch of the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.

Events such as barbecues, quizzes, a garden party and a Christmas market all helped the fundraising effort.

On their visit, Katie, Justin and Richard shared what they are able to do because of their guide dogs.

Companionship Team Leader Graham Ballard said: “Katie, who is blind, holds a full-time senior nursing position at Salisbury District Hospital and takes her Labrador Queenie with her everywhere!

“Justin, who has only partial sight and can’t hear either, works full time from home in IT and frequently walks into Salisbury for pleasure with retriever Ned.

“Ned is both a hearing and deaf dog trained to respond when alarms sound such as doorbells and fire alarms.

“Richard is blind and a former Paralympian specialising in skiing events. He has worked with Help For Heroes to encourage soldiers who lose their sight. His amazing guide dog  Dilly, a German Shepherd, was trained with Queenie and so they share a special bond. Rick lives outside Salisbury but travels in quite frequently thanks to Dilly.”

The funds raised by Braemar Lodge will go towards the two-year training of guide dogs locally and for arranging the rehoming of retired dogs.

Graham added: “The group were thrilled to receive our cheque and when we offered them an invitation to return, they were very happy to accept.”
After meeting the two- and four-legged visitors, Braemar Lodge resident Catherine Brighty said: “I didn’t realise that guide dogs had such a positive impact and can support people who work full time. I’m so pleased that our contribution will go a little way towards guide dog funding and help these people stay in work. It’s clear that without their dogs, life would be far more difficult for them.”
Braemar Lodge residents have chosen the Salisbury Foodbank as their main charity to support for 2024/25.

‘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.

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

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.

D-Day memories of veteran Douglas, 98, keep Braemar Lodge residents ‘transfixed’ 

A 98-year-old D-Day veteran has enthralled fellow residents at his new home by sharing personal memories of the Second World War.
Commander Douglas Parish moved to Braemar Lodge in Salisbury on the eve of the 79th anniversary of the famous allied landings in Normandy.

The invasion of the beaches on 6 June 1944 by around 326,000 troops from the United States, Canada, the UK and other countries was the biggest naval, air and land operation in military history.

It has been widely seen as signalling the beginning of the end of World War II.

Douglas, who was serving on the Royal Navy cruiser HMS Mauritius, spoke to his fellow residents while showing them his wartime diary and medals including the Légion d’honneur, awarded to veterans who helped liberate France.

Having taken part in the Anzio landings in Italy earlier in 1944, HMS Mauritius sailed to the French coast as part of Operation Neptune off Sword Beach.

Douglas, who joined the navy as an engineer and was a 19-year-old midshipman at the time of D-Day, gave an initial talk to Braemar Lodge residents in his first few days at the Stratford Road home.

He told his audience of D-Day: “I recall looking out at over 6,900 ships of all kinds. They were so close you felt you could almost step out and walk across them.”

Douglas explained that HMS Mauritius did indeed fire her guns and ‘took out’ out some enemy gun positions. He said the ship was itself fired on by German fast-attack E-boats using torpedoes.
“Thankfully these missed,” he said, adding: “I have often felt that I did not really engage in the landings having been below decks in the engine room. I had to do this as part of my training. I was kept abreast of situations outside via a tannoy system.”
Graham Ballard, Companionship Team Leader at Braemar Lodge, said: “Having had a tip-off from Douglas’s daughter Alison Larkham that he was happy to share his D-Day memories and still has his medals to display, I arranged for him to give a talk.

“He spoke to a room full of residents who were transfixed, listening to him give his account of the actual Normandy Landings and his experiences aboard the ship in those days.”

Commander Douglas Parish, left, discusses his war medals and D-Day memories with fellow Braemar Lodge resident Norman Meech.

Fellow Braemar Lodge resident Norman Meech said: “I found it fascinating to hear first-hand accounts of D-Day from a Royal Navy veteran’s perspective. I wished it could have been a longer talk as there was so much information to relay and questions to answer.”

Douglas has lived in Salisbury for more than 50 years. He and his wife Betty had previously lived in Plymouth after their wedding in 1947. Douglas explained that Betty was already in the British Red Cross when the Second World War broke out. She volunteered for civil defence in a first aid post, treating those caught in the air raids during the Blitz.

After retiring from the navy in 1967, Douglas retrained as a technical college lecturer and took a post at the Aircraft Engineering Training Wing in Middle Wallop, where he worked for 17 years.

He and Betty had four children, 13 grandchildren and, at the time of their 65th wedding anniversary eleven years ago, 13 great grandchildren.

Douglas was lay pastor at Porton Baptist Church for many years and has also had a long association with the Salisbury Sea cadets.

99 Flake is birthday wish come true for Stella, 99

Braemar Lodge welcomed a special visit by an ice cream van so a resident could have a wish come true – a 99 Flake on her 99th birthday.
Stella Parsons told carers of her wish for the crumbly chocolate treat and enjoyed it with a beaming smile in the sunshine outside Braemar Lodge.
First in the queue when Fat Sam’s Ice Creams parked up at the Stratford Road home, Stella told home staff: “I can’t believe you managed to get an ice-cream van here for me. I love an ice cream with a flake in it.”
Behind the scenes, team members had to act quickly when the original van they tried to arrange for the sweet surprise was unable to make it in the end.

Customer Support Advisor Tanya Williams and Companionship Team member Carol Petty issued an appeal for a replacement through social media, to which Fat Sam’s was first to respond.
Tanya said: “The appeal worked, delighting Stella. And as it turned out, residents, families and staff alike were able to enjoy an ice-cream. The weather was perfect, with sunshine and smiles all the way.”
Stella, whose two daughters and a niece shared in the moment with her, said of the 99: “It was just what I wanted. Perfect.”

Manufacturer Cadbury’s developed the original Flake more than 100 years ago when an employee at its Bournville factory noticed thin streams of excess milk chocolate falling from moulds cooled into flaky ripples.