Wednesday 27th November was a very special day for the residents living at Etheldred House as Home Manager, Santall had arranged for members of a nearby RAF base to join them for a coffee morning.
This allowed residents to connect with others in the community and also bring two serving generations together, as Etheldred House is home to many male and female veterans.
A group of Junior Officers from 16 Squadron Royal Air Force (RAF) Wittering came along to meet the people of Etheldred house. The residents, especially the veterans among the group, were really excited to meet the team and eagerly awaited their arrival in the reception area. Hot Drinks and Cakes had been set-up by the kitchen team so everything was ready for their arrival.
When they came through the doors dressed in their uniforms, residents shook their hands and with a look of admiration, invited them to join them at the table for some cake and coffee. As the residents sat and chatted with the group, they took the opportunity to share war-time stories and ask the officers some questions.
Multi-talented Carer and singer, Ryan, offered to come by on his day off and sing songs from the 1940s in the background. Not only did this lift the energy, but also encouraged reminiscence, bringing back connected memories from their pasts.
One of the residents named Mac started to tell a story about his war-time experiences. Mac served as a Wireless Air Gunner Operator and remembers his plane being shot at on the way back from Germany once, causing him to eject and parachute out. Unfortunately, he was greeted by German soldiers when he landed and was taken as a prisoner for three years. The RAF members were shocked that the man in front of them had been through this terrible experience, but asked Mac what it was like. Despite recalling some tough memories from the past, Mac kept his sense of humour and replied, “Not very nice at all, you were always hungry and there were no girls.”
Ann is also a resident at the care who shared stories on the day. During the war, she said, the home guards would often use her family’s farm to train their horses. Ann was a keen pony rider at the time and said the visiting guards would often ask her to ride her pony out to see if she could spot any enemies, as she was a young girl and wouldn’t be suspected. Ann’s husband also served but in the Royal Marines, for which Ann received a Life Member award.
The group continued to go around the circle and share their experiences. It was great seeing everyone so engaged, listening and showing each other respect as they told their stories.
Toby, one of the junior officers, said that he is currently training to become a pilot and is really enjoying it. This is the first time he has come to one of these events, he said, but loved being able to talk to the residents about all of their experiences. Toby told us that they cannot train when the weather is bad, so they are able to spend rainy days attending community events like this.
At the end of the event, Santall thanked Matt and his junior officers for their “act of kindness” and presented the group with a large hamper of chocolates.
Louise, Regional Operations Director, said, “How amazing that Etheldred House has organised this. It’s lovely to see so many people involved and all the ladies swooning over the men in uniform. Well done to Etheldred House and to all the Veterans living there.”
It was certainly a very emotional yet fulfilling day at Etheldred House meeting members of the RAF. The residents had a great time sharing their stories and listening to the officers. We’d be more than happy to welcome you all back on any rainy days off in the future.
A special thanks to Matt and the RAF benevolent fund for making the day possible, we salute you!