How a resident’s chance discovery has helped two volunteers maintain contact with Shottermill House, Surrey

One morning resident Norman Allen, who lives at Shottermill House with his wife Wenda, spotted a knothole in the garden boundary fence. Next door to Shottermill House live Elizabeth and Ken Lockwood, long-standing volunteers at the home. Peeping through the knothole on impulse, Norman saw Elizabeth and Ken sitting in their garden having a cup of coffee in the sunshine, and he called out to them through the fence. Ken fetched a step-ladder and stood on it and he and Norman chatted over the fence, relaying Elizabeth’s comments from the ground, all the while keeping a good social distance.

Our volunteers haven’t been able to visit as usual during lockdown, which has been hard on them. Most have been coming into the home for many years, and they have made lasting friendships with residents. Most are retired and had to self-isolate anyway, but regardless, they were mandatorily locked out when the lockdown began in March. For weeks and weeks they’ve been missing the companionship and the joy of their regular visits, and many have been left feeling bereft. Elizabeth Lockwood said:

We feel bereaved. We are missing our chats and our residents. We’ve been part of Shottermill House for over 30 years, and we feel that a part of our lives is missing.

Elizabeth and her husband Ken have been as much at home in Shottermill House as in their own house next door, with Elizabeth even relying on Shottermill’s visiting hairdresser for having her hair done. 

Now both in their nineties, Elizabeth and Ken have been part of the life of the home since it was built in 1990. They donated part of an L-shaped piece of their land in the planning stage to make the grounds a good shape and size. 

For years they’ve been on the devotions rota, often playing hymn duets on the two pianos that used to stand in the main lounge. They’ve prayed with staff and residents and organised events and coffee mornings. They also helped arrange fundraising events, and jars of Elizabeth’s homemade marmalade have raised £100s over the years. Everything was abruptly cut off in March, when the government announced lockdown and isolation. The Lockwoods were left bereft.

However, since Norman discovered the knothole in the fence, things have changed. Now, Elizabeth and Ken enjoy a chat with Norman most days – when it’s not raining. They’re still looking forward to the time when they’ll be able to visit the home and see all of the residents as usual. But for now, chatting over the fence is a highlight of the day.  

Find out how our other homes and housing schemes have adjusted to life in lockdown.