Fernhill News

IN THE NEWS: Joy for wedding guest Frank, 93, on 300-mile round trip from dementia care home

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Frank Campbell, seated, at the wedding reception of his granddaughter Jessica, right, at Tofte Manor in Bedfordshire. With them are groom Sheleendra Fernando and Colten Care Companionship team member Ann Marie Knight who escorted Frank all the way from his Outstanding-rated dementia care home, Fernhill in Dorset.

A dedicated companion at a Dorset dementia care home brought joy to a 93-year-old resident by taking him on a 300-mile round trip so he could attend his granddaughter’s wedding.

Frank Campbell made the journey from Colten Care’s Outstanding-rated Ferndown home, Fernhill, to the Bedfordshire village of Felmersham, and back, accompanied by Companionship team member Ann Marie Knight.

Frank’s family had expressed a heartfelt wish that he could be there in person when his granddaughter Jessica got married but knew the distance, coupled with his age and health needs, would make it a challenge.

They asked if any team members at Fernhill would be prepared to escort him to make it possible.

Ann Marie said: “I came forward as I knew I would love to do this for Frank and he would be so pleased to attend such a precious family occasion.”

After much planning to ensure all would go safely, a taxi ordered by the family arrived at Fernhill to collect Frank and Ann Marie at 8.30am on the wedding day.

The road trip took two and a half hours, arriving in good time for the ceremony at Felmersham’s St Mary’s Church.

“When we got to the church, we found we were seated right at the front,” said Ann Marie. “Frank’s comment was ‘how lovely’ and when he saw Jessica, he said how beautiful she looked. She beamed him a big smile when she was at the top of the aisle.” 

With everyone following Covid-safe guidance, Frank and Jessica were able to take some time together between the ceremony and the start of the reception, held at the 17th century Bedfordshire manor house and events venue Tofte Manor.

Ann Marie said: “They had a hug and a brief kiss on the cheek as the guests were gathering in the garden. It was such a beautiful moment. He looked so smart in his suit. Then all his family gathered round to see him and speak with him. His children said it made the whole family’s day to have Frank there, a really special ingredient of the wedding.”

After the reception, Frank and Ann Marie made the long return journey to Fernhill in the same taxi, eventually arriving back at 10pm.

“He was tired but so pleased to have been a part of such a special day,” Ann Marie said. “The family all made me feel so welcome too. They were so kind and considerate.”

Born in Whitehaven, Cumbria, in 1927, Frank first worked as an electrical engineer in the RAF before retraining as a dental surgeon.

He and his late wife Jeanie had five children: Fiona, Francis, Catherine and twins Helen and Andrew.