Mary P was born 98 years ago in Ireland. She came to England to train as a nurse; meeting her husband – then a house surgeon – whilst she was a ward sister in Bournemouth, but also living and working in Coventry when it was targeted during the World War Two Blitz.
“We all thought that the bombing might be worse than we’d had before, and that there might be more work for us, but the next day when I went out, everything was flattened as far as you could see,” she remembers.
Mary W was born in 1925 in Huddersfield. Her mother was a successful professional singer – they were a musical family with three pianos at home – whilst her father ran the thriving building business that her grandfather had built up from scratch, with Mary following in their footsteps by studying building construction at Huddersfield Technical College.
“I was the only girl!” she recalls. “I ran the family business for seven years; it was a big responsibility, but I had some good staff.”
Exploring residential care as widows
Having each married, the two Marys went on to have children and grandchildren; Mary P moving with her husband to a GP practice and a beautiful Georgian house in Worcestershire, whilst Mary W continued to live in Huddersfield, singing in choirs and beating many an opponent at bridge. As time went by, however, both become widows and they were both living alone, which started to become a source of anxiety for them and their families.
“I had a couple of falls,” says Mary P. “My sons and their families all visit whenever they can, but they have busy lives. So it was my own decision to move, four years ago, to Davenham. I knew of it already; my husband used to send patients here for respite care, and I had also visited people who had moved here. My family are happy, because they know I am well cared for, and I am happy too.”
“I’d also had a fall,” adds Mary W, “I had three fractures in my shoulder. My daughter, who lives in Worcestershire, had me to stay as I recovered, and whilst I was with them she suggested we could look into residential care.
Meeting people with shared interests
“We visited quite a lot of care homes, but Davenham was the best. It has beautiful furnishings and I can’t fault the staff – they are all so good and caring and can’t do enough for us – there is always something interesting going on.”
“Everyone is so friendly” continues Mary P, “and you get introduced to people with the same interests.”
That’s exactly what happened to the two Marys, after Mary W moved to Davenham two and half years ago.
Becoming firm friends
“We discovered that we had a lot in common,” says Mary P, “We like listening to similar programmes, such as ones about natural history or antiques, and we can both talk about our families and anything in general together.
“Obviously, it’s important to mix with other people too, but we usually meet and sit together at lunch; we’ll go shopping together in Malvern with an activities coordinator, and we both enjoy the lovely gardens here at Davenham – if the weather is good then there are plenty of places to sit outside and have tea.
“We found we were on the same wavelength; we just get on,” agrees Mary W. “Age doesn’t matter; it’s wonderful to have made a friend like Mary – I am as happy as can be here!
“At Davenham I’ve met new people and made new friends, especially Mary,” concludes Mary P. “We are like sisters!”
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