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102-year-old care home resident granted festive wish of a trip down memory lane

Doris Harris 1

Doris Harris, 102, was living independently in her own bungalow until June and it was only the loneliness of the coronavirus lockdown that prompted her to move into care.

Now living at Heron Lodge nursing home, in Wroxham, she is never more content than when talking about her life with fellow resident Lily Barnes, herself a centenarian.

After her months of Covid-enforced confinement, staff at the Kingsley Healthcare-run home thought it would be a brilliant early Christmas present for Doris to relive all those memories on a special trip back in time.

Her festive surprise began when Kingsley chauffeur Simon Boxby drew up outside the home in Norwich Road in a luxury car.

Her VIP journey, accompanied by home manager Maebh McCormack and senior support worker Susy Dean, included a peek inside her previous home and a visit to the village church where she wed and where her children were christened.

Mrs McCormack said: “We started with Doris being waved off by the Heron Lodge staff for a short journey back to her most recent home, a bungalow at number seven Linacre Avenue in Sprowston, across the road from her daughter Carol’s. 

“What a wonderful greeting we had on arrival. A gathering of friends and neighbours greeted Doris much to her delight. She recognised and greeted them all individually.”

Her daughter showed Doris into the living room of her former home which has yet to be sold.

“We spent time looking at some beautiful photos that adorned the living room,” said Mrs McCormack.

“Doris picked up the Queen’s photo from her mantelpiece and explained that she had received this on her 100th Birthday and treasured it greatly.

“She then showed us a beautiful black and white photo of her parents Fredrick and Ethel. Frederick was not to be abbreviated, she told us with a smile.

“She admired her mum’s shoulder length black hair and remarked, ‘It was exactly like that when she died, a full head of black hair’.”

Doris pointed at another portrait of herself as a young girl, “wearing a dress my sister made”.

She reached in her pocket for her tissue and had a few minutes of reflection before stating she was ready to go - not without picking up a bottle of sherry to take back to Heron Lodge on the way out.

Mrs McCormack said: “We waved off the welcoming party outside and moved a few hundred yards up the road towards Corbett Avenue, where Doris could tell us exactly what to expect coming up to the parade of shops where the greengrocers and the butchers were exactly as they had been for a huge part of her life.

“We passed her small bungalow and she recalled her time spent there. Next on route was St Peter’s Church, in Spixworth. On the way we passed the Longe Arms which Doris was familiar with.”

She took a short stroll up the path to the church where she had her wedding and where both her children were baptised.

Lastly, it was on to the Buxton road, some of which has changed due to the NDR.

On the journey from Spixworth she pointed out the family home where she brought up her son Graham and daughter Carol and acknowledged her sister Elsie’s house.

Next was her mother’s house, a small cottage, and close by she gestured to her sister Edith’s house. Our almost round trip drew to a close as we passed her mother’s house.

“We’ve done everything I’ve wanted to do and had on my list, we had best go back now,” she said.

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