Fair Shares in Stroud reflect on how their work with the Time to Connect project is inspiring local residents.
During one of our gentle park walks, Bob, who lives at Southfield Care Home had talked about his love of cars and motorbikes which inspired us to organise a visit by one of our volunteers with his 1935 Austin 10 Lichfield. As you can imagine, Bob loved examining the car; he took the opportunity to inspect the engine and sit in the passenger seat.
The event was a bit of a highlight with other Fair Shares members like Benny and his wife, who couldn’t wait to come along to join in the excitement too. Benny remembered his dad owning the same type of car and recalled fond memories of riding in it with his family.
What was unexpected, was the thrilled reactions of 93-year-old Margaret. Rarely active, Margaret was brought out in her wheelchair to see the car where she immediately got out of her wheelchair and sat in the driver’s seat – reminiscing about her days as a 17-year-old who had driven the same model to school and saying, ‘the boys liked me in a car, they thought I was hot.’ She couldn’t wait to share stories of driving to Weston Super Mare with her dad adding… ‘I feel like I’ve come back to life.’ She also remembered driving to a local school, Brimscombe Technical College, where her dad used to teach. Margaret’s comments prompted us to chat with the staff about the idea of using the Fair Shares mini bus to take Margaret and others to Weston for a day trip, following the old route that she would have used 76 years ago. After our visit Margaret was re-energized and sat and played piano, later doing some knitting. These were both things she had not done for a long while.
Some of the stories we discovered were new to everybody, including the care home staff. John, another resident, was accompanied by his son and together they studied the car and were especially interested in the engine. He subsequently talked about his work as an engineer at Gloucester Walls factory, revealing that he had invented the machine that sprayed the ice cream cornetto cones and actually had the patent for this! We discussed the possibility of re-visiting the factory with John and trying to see what other fascinating things he had kept hidden.
We were amazed at the response the car received from the residents, and the unexpected memories it had brought up for some. Stories like these once again, remind us how much our local residents have contributed to our shared history and how beneficial it is to personalise their choice of activities.