‘Beach therapy’ at Shirebrook care home brings back memories of holidays in Skegness

Picture postcard fun for these Richmond residents as they get in the holiday mood. They are (from left): Brenda Smith, Shirley Dolling and Cath Edwards, with staff member Sue Bills at the back. (PHOTO BY: Richard Tatham)
Picture postcard fun for these Richmond residents as they get in the holiday mood. They are (from left): Brenda Smith, Shirley Dolling and Cath Edwards, with staff member Sue Bills at the back. (PHOTO BY: Richard Tatham)

Memories of seaside holidays in Skegness were brought flooding back for residents of a care home in Shirebrook.

For a ‘beach day’ was held, featuring a sand pit, paddling pool, fish and chips and an ice cream van, as part of ultimate ‘reminiscence therapy’.

The taste of cockles brought back lots of memories for 85-year-old resident Shirley Dolling. (PHOTO BY: Richard Tatham)

The taste of cockles brought back lots of memories for 85-year-old resident Shirley Dolling. (PHOTO BY: Richard Tatham)

Research has shown that recalling happy remories can improve the mood of people, particularly those with dementia, and help them to feel connected to the outside world.

So, residents at Richmond Care Home on Recreation Road were only too pleased to see their garden transformed into a seaside resort.

They basked in sunny weather and reminisced about trips to the East coast, including to the former holiday camp at Skegness for miners in Derbyshire.

Shirley Dolling, 85, first went to the camp as a child after the war, and continued to visit when her husband, Ronald, became a miner at Langwith Colliery in the 1950s.

Resident Ivy Brooks enjoyed playing in the sand with youngsters Maddison and Rebekka. (PHOTO BY: Richard Tatham)

Resident Ivy Brooks enjoyed playing in the sand with youngsters Maddison and Rebekka. (PHOTO BY: Richard Tatham)

She said: “The ‘beach day’ was wonderful. It was like reliving my childhood.

“The first time I went to Skegness, I was so excited. I’d never been to the seaside before, and I loved building sand castles and playing in the sea. We even went on the beach if it was raining!

“The meals at the camp were something I rmeember because the food was always good.

“When I used to go back with my husband, cockles and prawns were a treat. They tasted just like the sea.

“To have cockles again at Richmond was amazing. They brought back so many memories.”

Another resident, Brenda Smith, 79, used to go to the camp every year because her father worked at Sherwood Colliery.

She said: “I remember having a handful of pennies and playing on the old slot machines.

“We’d meet friends there too, and I remember the food because it was always on our minds in the post-war years.

“Fish and chips were the ultimate treat. I had lots of vinegar, but I wasn’t allowed to have salt. Having the fish and chip van here at the home made it a perfect day.”

Richmond offers residential and dementia care for up to 40 people. The ‘beach day’ was just one of a range of therapeutic activities run by community organiser Natasha Westwood.

Natasha said: “As we get older, we find a lot of comfort in the happy times we enjoyed when we were younger.

“It’s ten years since Shirley went to the coast, and even longer for some of our other residents, so it was wonderful to see the joy she got from eating cockles again and sharing what she remembered of Skegness.

“But our ‘beach day’ created new memories as well, something more recent that they can look back on and smile about.”

The event was also a chance to bring the Shirebrook community together as families were invited to take along their children.

Nine-year-old Maddison Tansley and eight-year-old Rebekka Tansley loved splashing in the paddling pool and eating ice cream from the van of local trader Lee Pitaway.

Brenda said she was already looking forward to next summer and experiencing the Shirebrook seaside again!

She added: “The sand touching my feet was a good feeling. Whenever I visited the coast, it was about freedom and and excitement. We got a little taste of that again, and it was so much fun.”