Hill House Veterans Revisit their Wartime Memories
Four care home residents from Hill House in Honiton have visited the WW2 Nissen Hut and Upottery Airfield Heritage Centre, through which they were able to recall their experiences as armed service personnel during the Second World War.
Stan, Carey, Derrick and Mervyn were able to relive their wartime exploits at the newly refurbished centre, which re-opened in April and is just a stone’s throw away from their home in Dunkeswell. They relished the opportunity to sit once again at the controls of a Lancaster Bomber, and were intrigued by a so-called ‘unlucky mascot’ that had been found in the wreckage of a German Heinkel He 111 plane brought down over the area.
Hill House, which is run by The Abbeyfield Society, specialises in dementia care and regularly offers its residents the opportunity to take part in trips and activities designed to stir up memories and encourage them to talk about their lives.
“It really took me back to my time as an aircraft engineer during the war and seeing the planes return without all the crew that went out on them. It was a very tough time but it really made us appreciate what we had. I made sure to always make friends with the American airmen as they always had much nicer food than we did. They would turn up with the most amazing sandwiches with huge cuts of ham – I can still see and taste them now!”
Derrick also recalled, “I remember it being built, as I have always lived in Dunkeswell. The US airmen would come and drink in our local, The Royal Oak, and we would always have a good evening, consuming a bit too much alcohol together!”
Following the visit, the residents made potato shortbread using a recipe from one of the cookbooks that was on display at the museum.
The home’s Activities Coordinator, Nicola Trueman, said that it was very different to sort of food that they normally receive. She said:
“Our residents are used to three home-cooked meals a day made to suit their own individual tastes. The shortbread was something extra we made to try and we weren’t sure how it would go down, but fortunately we were all pleasantly surprised by the taste and texture.”
Meals at Hill House are taken together in the shared dining room, while each resident has their own private en-suite room and access to the communal lounge, conservatory, hair salon and substantial landscaped garden and grounds, which command fabulous views of the Otter Valley and Devon countryside.
The home operates on the Abbeyfield values of companionship, as the antidote to loneliness in later life, and community, with residents encouraged to maintain their old links to the local area and to forge new ones. Each resident also has a personalised care plan, enabling them to enjoy the full benefits of living at the home and an enhanced quality of life.