Bob, who lives at Southfield Care Home, had joined a few of the gentle park walks organised by Fair Shares. During one of these he talked about his love of cars and motorbikes. We therefore did our best to organise a visit by a Fair Shares volunteer who owns a 1935 Austin 10 Lichfield. Bob loved examining the car; he inspected the engine and sat in the passenger seat. Not only did the residents at the home enjoy the visit, other Fair Shares members came along as well, including Benny who came with his wife. Benny remembered his dad owning the same type of car and fond memories of riding in it with his family.
Another resident was also unexpectedly thrilled by the car. Margaret, a 93 year old woman, who lives at Southfields is rarely active. She was brought out in her wheelchair to see the car. Immediately she got out of her wheelchair and sat in the driver’s seat – reminiscing about her days as a 17 year old who had driven the same model to school and saying ‘the boys liked me in a car, they thought I was hot.’ She recalled driving to Weston Super Mare with her dad and said ‘I feel like I’ve come back to life.’ She also remembered driving to a local school, Brimscombe Technical College, where her dad used to teach.
Some of the stories we discovered were new to even the care home staff. Some of Margarets comments prompte dus to chat with the staff about the idea of using the Fair Shares mini bus to take Margaret and others to Weston for a day trip, following the old route that she would have used 76 years ago. After our visit Margaret was re-energized and sat and played piano, later doing some knitting. These were both things she had not done for a long while.
Another resident, John, was accompanied by his son and together they studied the car and were especially interested in the engine. He then talked about his work as an engineer at Gloucester Walls factory and mentioned that he had invented the machine that sprayed the ice cream cornetto cones and actually had the patent for this! We discussed the possibility of re-visiting the factory with John and trying to see what other fascinating things he had kept hidden.
We were thrilled at the response the car received from the residents, and the unexpected memories it had brought up for some. Hopefully we can continue working closely with the care home and perhaps discover more!