Our home in Chippenham is due to close later this year. To celebrate the blessing it has been to so many, we asked some of those closely connected to the home to share their memories
Leonora Home opened its doors in October 1974. The home was named after Leonora Gay who played a key role in raising funds to provide homes for older Christians in the South West. Leonora originally came to the area as an evacuee from London, first living at Bath then settling with her mother at Keynsham.
“We’ve always benefited from close links with local churches. In the past, there were ‘sales of work’, with people selling handmade items such as embroidery and jam. More recently, we’ve held an Auction of Promises as part of our annual Gift Day, with people donating everything from a flight in a light aircraft to a trucker’s trip out, including a 4.30am start and a trucker’s breakfast. In the early days, there was a very active young people’s group who took residents on outings, for example to the nearby bluebell woods or for fish and chips on the seafront at Weston-super-mare.”
Jim Short, member of the Auxiliary Committee
“My mother Florence was a Lady Visitor at Leonora, visiting every Friday to do Bible readings. Eventually she moved into Leonora herself and loved it. Whenever there was a visitor she thought they had come to see her!
“Now I volunteer at the home. It’s been a privilege to play the piano and see how the family members have been blessed through the singing of hymns. One lady had been a missionary to Nepal. She was living with dementia but her face would light up when we sung familiar choruses such as ‘Wide, Wide As The Ocean’. Another man, a retired vicar, loved ‘O Thou Who Camest From Above’, a hymn he’d only learnt since moving to the home. He was very frail but one day after singing it, he felt moved to stand up and lead us all in prayer.
“The Spirit has been at work in so many ways. On one memorable occasion, disaster was averted. My son Howard had parked his car on the slope outside Leonora. Suddenly the car started rolling down towards the road. Those in the lounge saw and cried out, ‘Oh Lord, please do something!’. Miraculously, the wheels turned sideways and the car came to rest on the grass.”
Mary Greenman, Volunteer
“I’ve been a night carer at Leonora for 30 years. One of the things I enjoy most about working nights is that there is more time for conversations with family members. Often, when they can’t sleep, they just want someone to sit with them and have a quiet chat. It feels very special. I’ve worked here so long I know every creak of the floorboards. At nighttime, I’m like Spiderman creeping round so I don’t make a noise!”
Diane Perrett, Carer
“We’ve had so many special people living with us. One lady, Vie, was a talented painter and painted me the most beautiful birthday card with a pansy on it. For the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002, we made one of our family members, Mary, queen for
the day, and gave her a crown to wear. She loved it and had such a regal disposition. More recently, we marked VE Day by playing all the old songs. One lady started dancing along with a big smile on her face.” Ruth Knight, Administrator
“One lady I’ll never forget is Winnie. She was here for 18 years and lived to be 105. She had the most beautiful smile and she never complained about anything. She’d lived on a farm and was missing the donkeys. So her family brought two donkeys in to see her! It took a bit of gentle persuasion to get them down the corridor but when they got to her room her eyes lit up.” Jenny Houston, Carer