Acclaimed children’s author and illustrator, Jill Barklem, who created the charming ‘Brambly Hedge’ series of books is continuing to savour the countryside that inspired her, thanks to Woodland Grove Care Home.
Born and brought up in Epping, it’s been the perfect choice for Jill, whose room opens onto a section of garden where bird feeders attract blue tits and goldfinches, squirrels tap on the French windows and foxes are glimpsed in the woodland beyond.
“It’s wonderful here,” says Jill, 64.
“I’ve loved nature since I was a little girl and although I can’t paint it in quite the same detail anymore, it means everything to be so close to it and to be able connect with it every day.”
Jill began the Brambly Hedge series in 1980, with four beautifully illustrated, seasonal stories about a family of mice and their daily adventures. The stories have been translated into thirteen languages and more than six million copies have been sold.
She recently returned to the source of her inspiration, Epping Forest, with Woodland Grove’s help
“Our care and support here is focused on the individual, how they want to live and what they like to do,” says general manager, Jo Coughlan. “The Forest is hugely important to Jill, it’s her home, so we identified a wheelchair-friendly route and took her on a walk at High Beach. It was fantastic to see how much she enjoyed it.”
Jill moved into Woodland Grove 12 months ago because of a number of health issues that mean she needs to use a wheelchair. Although her skills are diminished, she still loves painting and drawing and makes the most of the art sessions the home offers.
Her daughter, Elizabeth, says, “Mum is very happy here because she can still enjoy what she loves. From the day she moved in they have done everything they can to make her feel at home. They put up Brambly Hedge plates and pottery in her room, and a Brambly Hedge sign for her door.
“Nature has always been important to her and they took the time to understand that, to find the right room for her and give her these experiences. She can even do gardening because there are beds raised to wheelchair height.
“She has her art materials with her and the staff are fantastic at encouraging her to paint and draw. I couldn’t speak more highly of them.”