Troon youngsters send festive cheer to shielding elderly residents

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Sisters Lauren - (Explorer section )- and Louise (Junior section )

A Girls’ Brigade company have been spreading Christmas cheer to residents in a local care development by sending bespoke Christmas cards.

The 1st Troon Girls’ Brigade in South Ayrshire have designed their own Christmas cards and sent them to residents and staff at Mansfield Care’s Belhaven House.

At 50 strong, the youngsters hope to provide a card for every carer and resident to say thank you and send their best wishes over the festive season.

Belhaven House had hoped to host the company for a Christmas Carolling session and the senior girls, before the pandemic, had started to visit the residents weekly after school.

However, all joint activities have been cancelled for the foreseeable future due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nevertheless, members of Troon’s Girls’ Brigade have been sending motivational messages to the staff and the residents throughout lockdown.

Troop Captain and retired primary teacher, Mrs Ray Campbell, said: “Over the past couple of years the Girls’ Brigade have formed a strong connection with the residents at Belhaven House and it has been really difficult not to be able to visit them regularly.

“We know how tough it has been for us, so as a company our immediate thoughts were on the residents and staff who have had a particularly challenging time.

“It was hoped we would be conducting Christmas activities with the care home, in person, but this year that is simply not feasible. Therefore, we have decided to show our love and appreciation by sending Christmas cards instead.

“We hope that many of the girls will be able to join in and send cards to the home, whether by post or by hand.

“My own mother is in a care home and I haven’t sat with her for nine months, so I know how hard it is not being able to see your loved ones, and just how hard each carer works to keep them safe and entertained.

“The residents at Belhaven House are very much part of this community, so if we can bring a smile to their faces or a small dose of happiness then it has been worth it.”

1st Troon Girls’ Brigade planned to visit the home on VE Day to sing World War II songs with the residents before lockdown came into effect.

A number of the older girls would also visit the home and speak with the residents on a regular basis as part of their Duke of Edinburgh voluntary programme.

Belhaven House Home Manager, Fiona Hunter, said: “Everyone at Belhaven House is thrilled about receiving the Christmas cards from the Girls’ Brigade.

“For many of the residents the girls weekly visit is a highlight for them, and we would frequently get feedback about how much they value their time and company.

“Naturally, we were saddened by the suspension of these visits, so it means the world to all our residents and staff to receive these cards.

“We can’t wait to welcome back the Girls’ Brigade in the future.”

Belhaven House is one of Mansfield Care’s 11 homes and has been carrying out a variety of activities to keep its residents occupied in what has been a difficult year.

One such activity is called ‘Conversation Ball’, an adaption of an introductory ice breaker game, the sensory activity is designed to stimulate cognitive behaviour and spark fond memories to those suffering with dementia.

Mansfield Care specialises in small, friendly residential care homes in Edinburgh, Borders and west of Scotland; each designed to an exceptional standard with state-of-the-art facilities.

The Mansfield Care ethos is inspired by the kind of care we would wish for ourselves in later life – supportive, friendly, bright, positive, empathetic, respectful and homely.

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