Friends chosen to re-live childhood for new book

ELDERLY people in a care home are being asked to turn the clock back to help compile a unique history of their lives. Residents at BUPA s Abbotsbury Residential Home in Mead End, Biggleswade, have been chosen to take part in the Living History project. Al

ELDERLY people in a care home are being asked to turn the clock back to help compile a unique history of their lives.

Residents at BUPA's Abbotsbury Residential Home in Mead End, Biggleswade, have been chosen to take part in the Living History project.

All the residents, many in their 80s, are being asked to remember their childhood, what it was like going to school in Biggleswade, Sandy and Potton, growing up in the towns and villages and eventually going to work and having families of their own.

Families of residents are also being encouraged to join in the project providing documents and photographs that will be displayed in the giant scrapbook.


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Among those who have already volunteered to take part are three residents who were at school together in Biggleswade.

In charge of the project that will last six months is carer Susan Young.

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"We will have a theme each month and we have started with what it was like bathing and going to the toilet in the old days," said Mrs Young.

"The old chamber pots are now flower pots of course but many of them remember outside toilets which often more than one family used and bathing once a week in a tin bath often in front of the fire.

"There will be a display in the home to show what we are doing and we are encouraging families of residents to help us with pictures or anything that reflects the past in Biggleswade, Sandy or Potton.

"The three who were at school together have wonderful memories when they were children and are enjoying remembering their childhood together."

The three residents who were at Biggleswade Church of England School in Shortmead Street together are Alma Hill and Lillian Reed, both 84, and David France 82. All three recalled their schooldays with great clarity. Lillian was one of nine children born in the White Lion pub which was run by her father while Alma was born in Hitchin Street and David was born close to the town centre.

"Almost 80 years have passed since we all first met and we all remember the times we had together at our first school," said Alma.

"Biggleswade was a lovely little market town. But there were no cars, and we had no electricity or telephones. At school the only heating in winter was a coal fire and we walked everywhere.

"But we had great fun with each other. I would spend a lot of time with Lillian at her father's pub playing.

"It is wonderful we are all together again after so many years and we are looking forward to helping produce a book on Biggleswade's history."

Lillian, who married a Londoner and moved to the capital before returning to Biggleswade soon afterwards to escape the Blitz, said: "I always had to be in bed by 6pm because the pub was open then for customers.

"Even though times were hard we loved life and never complained like people do now. I have always loved Biggleswade and love talking about the town."

David went on to start a successful painting and decorating business which his sons now run.

"I remember the school and in the woodwork lessons getting a chunk of wood thrown at me when I misbehaved," said David, who served in the Royal Artillery during the D-Day landings.

"I remember Alma and Lillian as children even though I was younger than them. Now we still talk about the old days."

So what is the recipe for a happy life?

"It starts with discipline," said Alma. "Then comes respect for other people. There is too much greed. Learn to live a simple life and be able to talk to other people and never forget good family values."

The Living History project is an initiative run by BUPA Care Homes and BUPA Community Connections and is intended to help residents reminisce and incorporate their memories in a lasting feature at the home.

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