A resident at a care home in Sale enjoyed a special visit from a local stables.
The team at Care UK’s Oakfield Croft care home, on Oakfield, knowing about resident Helen Fitzgerald Larkin’s life-long love of horses, organised a unique treat for her.
A keen equestrian from a young age, Helen, who is living with dementia, was surprised with an outdoor visit from a friendly horse named Bumble from Wythenshawe Stables.
Hoping to bring back happy memories to Helen, who was Irish junior show jumping champion on several occasions, the horse trotted into the home’s gardens to the delight of Helen, who spent time petting the animal and enjoying their company.
Although Helen’s show jumping career was tragically cut short by a serious accident when she was 16 years old, Helen’s love of horses continued throughout her life. For anyone stepping foot inside her room at Oakfield Croft, her passion is clear to see, with pictures and even a horse brooch which she regularly wears.
When asking Helen how she found the experience, she said: “It’s been one of the best days I’ve ever had”.
Daniel Cole, home manager at Oakfield Croft, said: “We always like to go the extra mile for residents here at Oakfield Croft, and while the last few months has been challenging, it’s wonderful to be working with those in the community to organise special activities for residents once again.
“Horses have been a huge passion for Helen since a young age, and we’ve heard countless stories about her riding in her younger years since she joined the Oakfield Croft family. It was wonderful to see Helen reunited with her favourite animal once again, and it was a truly fantastic day for everyone involved.”
Irish-born Helen was brought up in an equestrian family. Her father, Frank Fitzgerald, was a Kilkenny horse breeder, and her uncle, Bryan Marshall, was Queen Elizabeth's jockey and twice rode winners in the English Grand National. Helen has spent much of life fundraising, which has benefited many charities. With a passion for helping others and using her singing talent, Helen has raised many thousands of pounds singing at charity functions. One of her stand out achievements was raising almost £200,000 for the Manchester Royal Infirmary Cancer Laser Appeal.
Helen’s work in the community has been recognised in many different ways, and she has been named both ‘Catholic Woman of the Year’ and ‘Cheshire Woman of the Year’. In 1989, Helen received an MBE, and the following year she was created a Dame of St Gregory by Pope John Paul II. Helen became a Deputy Lieutenant in 2001. She moved into Oakfield Croft this year, and enjoys singing, crosswords and playing the harmonica.
Oakfield Croft, which opened earlier this year, has been designed to enable residents to live active and fulfilling lives, while also promoting independence. The new care home incorporates space for hobby and leisure activities. The layout of the building is configured into a series of individual suites, each having a dedicated lounge/dining room to help facilitate the creation of close-knit communities, as well as facilities like a cinema, coffee shop and hair salon.
For more information on Oakfield Croft, please contact the customer relations manager Jayne Eyre on jayne.eyre @careuk.com or call 0161 820 4019.
For general information about Care UK, please visit careuk.com/oakfield-croft