It was only after former school teacher Hilary came to live with us at Shottermill House, Haslemere that an extraordinary connection came to light. Business Manager Mike Beere explains
It was Christmas 2017. I was travelling on a train from Reading to Devon, and found myself sitting opposite a young girl, Charlotte, and her mum, Emily. Charlotte was playing cards and asked if I would like to join in.
During our conversation, it transpired that both Emily and I had been to boarding school and we shared our experiences. I had recently learnt about a book by Mark Stibbe called Home At Last: Freedom from Boarding School Pain. I took Emily’s contact details and said that I would send on information.
A week later, Emily’s book arrived and she discovered that the author was the past vicar of St Andrew’s Church, Chorleywood, where her “honorary Aunt” lived and where she had spent a lot of her childhood.
‘I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being.’ – Ephesians 3:16
Over the next four years we kept in touch with the odd text. Then in May 2022 I received the following message from Emily...
“Are you ready for an amazing story? My ‘honorary Aunt’, Hilary, (my mother’s best friend) has just moved to a new care home. I googled the home to check the CQC rating etc, to discover that it was Shottermill House and I recognised your photo on the home page. I told Mum that Auntie would be in good hands. There are also a couple of other people in the home that Auntie knows.
“Hilary is a wonder… she helped raise my brother and I when my father died and Mum had to work. A primary school teacher, she would travel every school holiday to us in Devon and helped us to read and write and took us on trips to the beaches etc. She would sing ‘You are my sunshine’ to me. Ask her to sing ‘Rule Britannia’ as she’ll bring the house down!”
In September, Emily asked if it would be possible to come and watch the Queen’s funeral with Hilary. Of course, we said ‘yes’. It was wonderful to see her again and witness the special relationship that she has with her “Auntie”.
After her visit, we received the following note from Emily:
“Thank you all so much for your kindness and care, today. Jo, Kelvin, your team and yourselves have clearly made a good impression on her.
“Kelvin said to Auntie ‘time for a break now, Teacher’ which was amazing, as I could see Hilary respond so well to this.”
At Pilgrims’ Friend Society, we value each person as an individual whom God has a plan for. It’s so lovely that God has brought this amazing lady to us, preluded by that apparently chance meeting on a train.
Hilary has settled in really well at Shottermill and has made a real difference to other people in the home with her love of life and warm personality. You can see her teacher’s heart reaching out to all those around her.
In October, it was Hilary’s 80th birthday and this time both Hilary and her mum came to visit. Following the visit, Emily wrote.
“I hope you got a slice of birthday cake, thank you so much to the chef and team for the homemade cake. Also noticed how many cards were put up in her room. Comforted and heartening to see she's not forgotten like so many with dementia and illness can be. Auntie looked good yesterday, her hair was lovely and when I saw the can of Elnett hairspray in her room I laughed. That's what she always sprayed over her curled hair (and me!) when I was a child.”
We know that God is a relational God. It’s wonderful the way that He is at work in the chance relationships we may forge with people, wherever we meet them, and that our relationship with Emily and her family continues to this day.
Find out more about life at Shottermill House...
Shottermill House is a 31-bed residential care home in Haslemere, Surrey
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