New Halstead day centre reunites firemen for a day of memories

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The team at Care UK's Maplestead day centre in Halstead, which opened recently, has arranged for one of its club members to visit his former fire station and meet up with colleagues he worked with 30 years ago.

The very special outing was organised for the team’s first ever day club member Maurice Norman - a retired fireman who worked in Halstead for 31 years until he retired in 1981.

Since his retirement, Mr Norman had not returned to the fire station but had told the day club’s staff, with great pride, about his years of service and his special colleagues. Maplestead Manager, Catherine Anderson-Mills explained: “Mr Norman was our first day club member and we wanted to do everything we could to help him settle in at Maplestead and to make him feel special.”

During visit, Mr Norman met Watch Manager Peter Robertson, who he had mentored as a young fireman, and former colleagues, who have also retired, Leading firefighters Dennis Bryant and Derek Fletcher, as well as members of the current crew.

Mr Norman, who is 88 years old, said “Seeing the old place brought back so many memories; me and the boys saw some terrible things when we were fighting fires, but we always tried to have a laugh at the end of the shift.”

Watch Manager Robertson said: “It was so heart-warming to have Maurice back with us here and it has brought back so many memories. You just can’t beat the old way we did things; we’ve lost a lot of firefighter friends along the way and it was nice to see all the boys back together.”

He was also impressed with the team from Malplestead who accompanied Mr Norman, saying: “The team had obviously taken a lot of time to look into Maurice’s background, to arrange the visit and to look after his wellbeing on the day.

“It was clear Maurice remembered many calls and appliances we served on and I am so happy that he remembered and wanted to be here on station.”

Day centre Manager Catherine Anderson-Mills said: “We like to encourage all our club members to keep up with their friendships and their interests and we will do what we can to help them do the things they are interested in.

“When people are active and engaged in things they enjoy, they keep their life-skills and confidence and this helps them to stay independent and remain part of their communities.”

The Maplestead team will be celebrating National Carers Week by inviting friends and relatives, who care for people with dementia in the Halstead area, to drop in to the day club centre in Dame Mary Walk for a cup of tea and a chat between 4-7pm on Tuesday 19th June.

Catherine said: “Caring for a loved one with dementia is both challenging and rewarding. It helps to be able to talk to people who have similar experience and share ideas as well as having a good talk and a laugh.

“We will have information on hand from dementia charities and organisations that may also be of help, as carers often have their own jobs and families and they can find it difficult to have the time to seek out helpful information.”

Talking about the club, which shares a site with Care UK’s new Colne View nursing home, Catherine said: “At Maplestead day club, we offer a warm friendly environment where friends old and new can chat over tea, coffee and biscuits, join in our many stimulating activities and feel at ease in our relaxed, informal atmosphere.

“We are open seven days a week from 8am until 8pm and the team, who are all specially trained in dementia care, tailor the service to suit individual requirements in order to provide as little or as much support as each person requires. That way we know our guests are getting the very best out of their time with us and their carers can relax in the knowledge that their friend or loved one is happy, comfortable and most importantly, in safe hands.”

Photo caption:

From left to right:  retired firemen Dennis Bryant and Maurice Norman, Officer in Charge Peter Robertson, retired fireman Derek Fletcher.


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