Staff at Redcot care home in Haslemere regularly encourage residents to reminisce. Recently three remarkable, adventurous and motivating life experiences were revealed by three remarkable ladies who live at the home.
Firm friends at Redcot, Mary Kenny, Sybil Cross and Juliet Furier have all had very different careers and life journeys. These range from travelling throughout post-World War II Europe, to being a journalist for a range of women’s magazines to living in India.
Mary, who is a resident at Redcot, loved the English classes at school and knew from an early age that she wanted to be a journalist. Mary’s teacher was Mrs Oliver who inspired her to follow her dreams and pursue her love of writing. Mary’s Mother had a friend who was a journalist, so when she was 16, Mary got in touch and the rest is history.
“I loved working as a journalist. I was lucky enough to work on some great titles including Women’s Weekly, Women and Home and My Home,” said Mary. “My favourite was Women’s Weekly as we covered a really diverse range of subjects everything from fashion shows to knitting patterns, every day was different.”
Mary continued: “There are lots of different departments within a magazine, but I loved the Beauty Department the most. When I was covering stories for them, I was fortunate enough to attend many fashion shows and one of the nicest things I was involved with was writing about how ladies knew what their ideal colours were, what suited them best and what shades of lipsticks to wear
“Throughout my career, I never interviewed an awkward or nasty person, everyone was great and to be honest, all my time working as a journalist was fantastic.”
Sybil Cross, who has been at Redcot since March 2020, went on an adventure of a lifetime after the end of World War II. In 1948 Sybil and two friends left England’s shores and with only £25 in their pockets, travelled all around Europe.
Sybil said: “Suddenly, Europe was open and I couldn’t resist going. It seemed the natural thing to do. My two friends and I got trains and hitchhiked to most of our destinations. I wouldn’t of course tell youngsters to hitchhike now, it’s not safe, but back in 1948 it was OK. We stayed in many hostels and really emersed ourselves into the European way of life.
“One of the things that sticks with me is, that at the time, coffee was illegal and we did get searched just in case we were carrying any coffee contraband.”
When Amanda Snelgrove, the care home’s Activity Co-ordinator asked Sybil if she made any friends on her travels, she said: “We met lots of nice and interesting people. We made friends with an architect who became a pen pal for a while and I met a charming German chap who moved to Canada. He asked me to join him, but by then I’d met my wonderful Husband.”
Juliet Fuirer, has been a resident since February 2020. Juliet was born in Lahore which is now the second biggest city in Pakistan. It is also known as the City of Gardens due to its many parks and gardens. Juliet spent the first six years of her life growing up in India and has many fond memories.
“My Mother lived in India for a long time and both my Father and Grandfather worked for the Indian Civil Service. I remember India being extremely hot, but we wore salwar kameez which are loose tunics as they work really well in hot and humid weather.”
Juliet continued: “My Mother made delicious curries, my favourite was with pineapple chunks and raisins and she continued to make it for me when we came back to live in England.
“I’m often asked about my childhood in India, it was special. Snakes used to curl themselves around door handles, which always gave me a fright. I remember taking family walks in the hills and having a wooden toy ball. Once, it rolled down a deep ditch and one of our friends went running down the hill to get if for me. He was missing for a quite a bit but did finally come back with my ball. My parents thought he’d fallen asleep in the sun and had a sneaky afternoon snooze.”
Jan Daly, the manager at Redcot Care Home added: “With the ongoing COVID 19 concerns and lockdown restrictions, everyone at Friends of the Elderly appreciates that its residents, their families and staff are, like everyone, now living in the new normal and so is supporting and facilitating communication, engagement and interactions to help keep stimulate mental health and wellbeing is key at this unprecedented time. Through talking about and sharing their experiences, life’s funny anecdotes and stories, the ladies have learnt a lot about each other, and also entertained our other residents regaling their life tales.”
When asked what living at Redcot means to them, all three ladies agreed and said: “Everything. It’s our home and we are safe.”
Redcot is set in the delightful town of Haslemere, Surrey. Overlooking beautiful gardens and surrounded by countryside, much of which is owned by the National Trust, Redcot is blessed with a unique, tranquil setting.