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.

Seas of red as residents honour the fallen  

Residents at Colten Care homes in the south have knitted, sewn, crocheted, painted and sculpted thousands of poppies as heartfelt tributes for Remembrance season.
Many of the handmade works feature in outdoor hanging displays designed to prompt visitors and passers-by to stop and reflect.

As well as poppies, homes have held arts and crafts sessions in which residents – including many service veterans – have painted pictures on the theme of wartime sacrifice and shared their thoughts and memories with each other.

Residents at one home, Amberwood House in Ferndown, spent two months preparing an exterior floral ‘waterfall’ made entirely from the ends of recycled plastic bottles.

[caption id="attachment_4579" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Amberwood House in Ferndown produced a poppy waterfall using the ends of recycled plastic bottles. On the left is resident Jim Smith and Companionship Team colleagues Sharon McVicar, standing, and Kirsty Richmond-Cole. On the right is Home Manager Diane Nicholls with residents, from left, Mary Whitehouse, Marjorie Hutchings and Noreen Hewitt.[/caption]

Companionship Team Leader Kirsty Richmond-Cole said: “It soon became apparent that the residents were addicted to creating the poppies and they started a factory line which consisted of stations for painting the first coat, drying with a hairdryer, adding a further coat, painting the poppy centre, further drying and then top coating.
“When they were all ready, I spent three evenings in the rain, drilling holes in the poppies, erecting the chicken wire, attaching the poppies to the wire with paper fasteners and creating the display. The finished result was worth it and amazing.”
Marjorie Hutchings, one of the residents involved in the artwork, said: “Creating such a large display was so enjoyable. It is beautifully eye-catching considering it is all made out of recycled plastic.”

In Salisbury, the finished display at Braemar Lodge in Stratford Road numbered more than 1,900 handcrafted poppies.

While most were made by residents, families, staff and close community contacts, the home also received donated poppies from as far afield as Scotland.
Resident Delia Bailey said: “I am an avid knitter so was delighted to have been part of this project. I started to knit poppies in August and made 140 in total. The display looks splendid and I thoroughly enjoyed doing it.”
The home’s Customer Support Advisor Tanya Williams said: “We were completely overwhelmed with the response to our call for poppies, including so many from friends in the community and anonymous donors.

“It has been a labour of love but the finished display has far exceeded our expectations.”

St Catherines View in Winchester collected nearly 1,500 poppies after it reached out to the community to help with a display.

[caption id="attachment_4581" align="alignnone" width="1024"] At St Catherines View in Winchester are, standing front, from left, Home Manager Vanda Baker and residents Wendy Lunn and Nalini Bhagwat. Behind them are, from left, Chris George, Chairman of the Royal British Legion Winchester Branch, Immy Fletcher, Companionship Team member, and Maintenance Assistant Trevor Warder who made the silhouette of the saluting soldier for the home’s display.[/caption]

Among those who responded to a Facebook plea from Companionship Team Leader Laura Sheldrake was a lady, Jackie Jenkins, who lives in Yorkshire.

Chris George, chairman of the Royal British Legion Winchester Branch, who visited the home to see the display, said: “It is important that everyone gets the opportunity to be able to remember our fallen heroes and Laura and her team have made sure that this can happen for the residents of St Catherines View.

“It was an absolute pleasure to be invited to the home and to meet some of the residents at the home, a very humbling experience.”

In the New Forest, team members at Belmore Lodge in Lymington filmed residents sharing their wartime memories.

Footage of the discussions was shown to an audience gathered in the lounge, prompting Lauren Cooper, Companionship Team member, to say: “It was incredibly reflective and moving.”

One relative, Gill Knight, who was present, said: “I think it is great what they have done here. I heard the residents talking about their memories and it was just so special.”

Belmore Lodge also invited residents to make clay poppies and produce their own paintings on the subject of Remembrance.

Among activities at other Colten Care homes, residents at Bourne View in Poole painted poppy images on pebbles for distribution in the neighbourhood, Whitecliffe House in Blandford held a poppy-themed colouring competition with local schoolchildren and Newstone House in Sturminster Newton welcomed the Shroton Ukulele Band to play at a British-themed Remembrance afternoon.

All 21 Colten Care homes hold annual services of Remembrance in line with wider Armistice Day commemorations.

A key aim is to honour veterans living in each home and families with current serving personnel.

At some homes, including Brook View in West Moors, Dorset, residents are invited to join official parades and services taking place in the community and to lay wreaths.

Braemar Lodge’s garden party boosts The Bridge Youth Project

A summer garden party has raised more than £500 for city charity The Bridge Youth Project.
Residents and staff welcomed families, friends and community contacts for the occasion.

Fundraising was driven by the sale of arts and crafts items handmade by residents in the weeks beforehand along with plants and flowers they grew specially.

Ideal as small gifts, the craft items included greeting cards, bookmarks and decorated key rings.

Under the direction of Colten Care’s Music & Arts Partner Fiona Pritchard, a residents’ choir delivered the party soundtrack by singing and drumming along to popular Eurovision hits of yesteryear by, among others, Abba, Sandie Shaw, Lulu and Cliff Richard.

[caption id="attachment_4542" align="alignnone" width="756"] Braemar Lodge resident Freddy Bull and Companionship Team member Carol Petty enjoy singing and drumming during the garden party.[/caption]

Braemar Lodge chose The Bridge Youth Project as its main charity this year under a Colten Care policy of enabling residents at all 21 of its homes to support good causes in the community.

Home Manager Jackie Cash said: “We always enjoy preparing and hosting our garden party. It’s a fun, social experience for our residents and it helps us maintain community links. At the same time, supporting The Bridge Youth Project in their superb work in the community is both a privilege and a pleasure.”

The Bridge Youth Project works to raise young people’s aspirations and resilience through mentoring, emotional literacy and courses in social skills and wellbeing.

One of the people involved in the charity’s founding in 1994 was a former Braemar Lodge resident, Neville Jennings.

And making a personal visit to the home for the garden party was current chair of trustees, Bill Graham.
Thanking the home for hosting the party and raising the funds, Bill said: “The residents and staff at Braemar Lodge clearly put in a great deal of effort to make this occasion a success, and we are so grateful for all they are doing on our behalf.”
Among the beneficiaries of previous Braemar Lodge garden parties and year-round fundraising are homeless charity Alabaré, the Salisbury Hospital League of Friends, Salisbury Hospice, Salisbury Trust for the Homeless, Horatio’s Garden, Age UK and the Naomi House and Jacksplace hospices.

Braemar residents celebrate Her Majesty’s 70-year reign

Residents at Braemar Lodge went all out to enjoy themselves for the Queen’s historic Platinum Jubilee.
Thanks to an application by our Home Manager Jackie Cash to Salisbury City Council, residents were invited to attend the lighting of the Beacon on Old Sarum.
One, Margaret Drage, said: “It was a joy to be there on such a magnificent evening. It was a marvellous experience.”
Jackie said: “Many of our residents are of a similar age to the Queen, or a bit younger, and it was lovely to enable them to be part of such a historic occasion, one that perhaps none of us will see again in our lifetimes.”

Amid Union Jacks, dancing and singing, Braemar Lodge also staged a festive ‘street party’ in the garden in honour of the occasion.

The Jubilee buzz began weeks before the extended Bank Holiday weekend with residents making themed artworks and decorations.

One initiative involved assembling a handmade Jubilee mosaic which everyone at the home was proud to put on display.

And resident Jennifer Whitaker even sent the Queen a poem. “I’ve always written poetry, ever since childhood,” she said.  “I call it ‘doggerel’, comic verse that doesn’t necessarily have a rhythm. My tribute to the Queen simply flowed, and it seemed absolutely fitting to send it to Her Majesty in this Jubilee Year.”

At Braemar Lodge and our other 20 homes across the south, commemorative Jubilee trees have been planted as a lasting tribute to Her Majesty.

Braemar Lodge shortlisted for top national award

Braemar Lodge is a finalist in the ‘Dignity and Respect Care Home of the Year’ category at the National Care Awards, now in their 23rd year
Organised by care industry body Careinfo.org, the awards are designed to ‘celebrate the very best people in the long-term care sector, highlighting excellence and rewarding those who work tirelessly to provide consistently outstanding care’.

Home Manager Alison Bremner said: “The shortlisting is testament to our investment in staff and their development.
“It’s all about enabling that sense of loyalty and commitment to the community of Braemar Lodge and being the best we can be.”
Feedback from residents also reflects our home’s success.

105-year-old Iris Stowell, our oldest resident, was among a pop-up choir who recently made a short trip from the home to the city’s Victoria Park for a public performance of songs from the Abba musical Mamma Mia.

Iris said: “We had so much fun. It was brilliant.”

A second Colten Care home, Outstanding-rated Kingfishers in New Milton, Hampshire, is on this year’s shortlist in the category of ‘Care Team’.

Winners of the National Care Awards are due to be announced at a ceremony at the Hilton London Metropole in November 2021.

‘I would walk 500 miles’, say residents

‘Over 31 days, walkers at our home completed enough routes around their garden to match the entire distance from Salisbury to their namesake village of Braemar, 500 miles to the north in Aberdeenshire – plus 255 miles back.
Our initiative raised more than £500 for Salisbury-based social enterprise The Pantry Partnership, our home’s nominated charity for this year.

Kay Callow achieved the most miles among individual residents taking part. She clocked up ten miles by completing 101 laps of the garden and three laps of Victoria Park.
Kay said: “The challenge was inspiring and I went walking every day to ensure we reached our goal.”
As well as signage in the garden, there was a map on a pop-up banner showing the virtual route up to Braemar village in the Highlands.

Walkers’ progress was shown against four stages, with city ‘checkpoints’ in Birmingham, Manchester, Carlisle and Edinburgh guiding the way.

Home Manager Alison Bremner said: “Our Braemar-to-Braemar challenge was fantastic and a huge success. We exceeded both our fundraising and mileage goals. It was a great way to encourage everyone to enjoy being outside in the spring weather and have something to work towards that involved both staff and residents. Just like The Proclaimers, our residents proved they were only too happy to walk 500 miles.”

The initiative has gained warm praise from staff and residents at Craigard House in Ballater, the nearest care home to Braemar village itself. Like Braemar, Ballater is in Royal Deeside, so-called because of the Royal Family’s Balmoral Castle estate just a few miles away.

Craigard House is owned and operated by Craigard Care whose Managing Director Stephen Cowie said: “All our staff and residents were delighted to learn that Braemar Lodge had chosen our beautiful area of Royal Deeside as their destination. We would like to extend our congratulations and admiration to the staff and residents of Braemar Lodge for their fantastic achievement of completing their Braemar-to-Braemar 500-mile virtual walk.”

The Pantry Partnership creates meals from food that would otherwise go to waste and shares them across the community.

Volunteers help to collect, grow and prepare the food and cooking skills are taught through workshops and courses.

In a message to Braemar Lodge, Fiona Ollerhead, founder of The Pantry Partnership, described the walking initiative as a ‘fabulous feat’, adding: “We love how you have embraced the virtualness of a lockdown fundraiser. We are honoured by your amazing work and support.  I think you must all be considered as Salisbury’s very own Sir Captain Toms. Thank you so much.”