THIS IS THE LAST OF A SERIES OF BLOGS DESCRIBING SOME OF THE HISTORY AND CULTURE OF THE EXTRACARE CHARITABLE TRUST. THIS WAS THE ORGANISATION I FOUNDED AND WORKED FOR FROM 1987 THROUGH TO THE TIME I RETIRED IN 2010. I HOPE IT WILL INSPIRE OTHERS TO LOOK AT NEW WAYS OF LIVING IN LATER LIFE.
For other blogs in this series, click on “ExtraCare Traditions” in the TAG CLOUD.
In the mid 1990’s our programme of activities was already well established in all our nursing homes and extracare housing schemes. Some of our managers and residents wanted to be more ambitious and we tentatively sent a first group of people to the Calvert Trust in Devon, which is an outward bound centre. Given the level of frailty of many of our residents, we weren’t sure how much they would be able to accomplish but the centre is staffed by some excellent instructors and all of our first group rose to all of our challenges – climbing, sailing, canoeing, riding, abseiling, swimming and zip line. All came away with a great sense of achievement having done things they would never have imagined they could do. This is very much thanks to the brilliant instructors and the great ExtraCare staff teams.
This first group gave us the confidence to take over the whole of the centre for several weeks of every year and send 50 people at a time to Calvert Trust. Over the years several thousand people of all ages and abilities followed in the footsteps of this first group. It was an inspirational place to visit and a very emotional experience to see the smiles and tears on residents’ faces.
When residents came back from Calvert Trust, they couldn’t stop talking about the experience and influenced many of their friends to believe they could try out new ideas and face new challenges with confidence.
The photographs in the above gallery show some of the things people accomplished. The weeks were challenging but also great fun and included many more things than just the outward bound physical activities:-
Camping out on Exmoor, sketching at Sir Francis Chichester’s House, driving shire horse driven wagons, orienteering in a forest, ghost hunting in the dead of the night, following nature trails.
Entertainment included barn dancing, professional singers, operatic performances and Christmas concerts.
Over the years a number of celebrities came along to support what we were doing. Geoff Capes, the Olympic Shot Putter and World’s Strongest Man, was a great supporter of our work. At the time of the TV Gladiators programme, we managed to get Gladiator Scorpio to come and challenge one of our residents – Wicked Wilf – to abseiling and climbing. Wilf was nearly 90 at the time and had great fun dressing up in a Lycra superman outfit.
Many of our residents ended up being interviewed on local TV and radio when they returned home.
These were truly life changing experiences and opened the door to a much more positive outlook on later life.