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Memories of 'Risdene'

Life at 'Risdene'

May 1957-September 1973

By Miss I. P. Mitchell - Matron

On looking back over sixteen years it is surprising the changes in care of the aged that have happened. I recall how Risdene was given by Mr. W.J.A. Peck to the Northamptonshire County Council, County Welfare Department, for the purpose of an Old People's Home for Rushden and District on April 15th, 1957. I came from the Isebrook Hospital full of enthusiasm for making first and foremost a home, and, may I add, a happy home where old people could spend the eventide of their lives in peace. In these sixteen years, that has indeed been my one aim - that Risdene should be first and foremost a happy home, free as far as possible from petty rules and regulations and a place where love abounds. It was a hard road and the cleaning and preparing of the house in those days was done by three people. The Assistant Matron, General Assistant and myself. I well remember that we could not even tell what the front Entrance Hall looked like. After several buckets of water the Mosaic Floor for which Risdene is famous was uncovered.

During this time of preparation I was continually being visited by aged people from the District who were hoping to be fortunate enough to be admitted. I well remember one old gentleman; it was not actually entering Risdene that was worrying him, but where he could hang his overcoats. I recall my first residents who so helped me to pave the way and set the standard for this home. I have never forgotten one of them and each resident leaves some mark upon the home which still lingers on. One recalls Mr. J.C. Gregory, Rushden's Old Station Master and how in Risdene he wrote a history of all the Kings and Queens and Railway Stations. One could always rely on Mr. Gregory to speak or give a vote of thanks on various occasions when the need arose. I remember that we had only the B. B.C.1, Television Aerial and how Mrs May Mackness in 1958, by sewing Chair Backs and doing lovely candlewick needlework raised £25 for the I.T.V. Aerial. Those pioneer residents of mine paved the way and laid the foundation for Risdene as it is today. They were proud of Risdene and proud to call it their home.

Many of these elderly residents of Rushden a lot of you will remember, Mrs J. Clarke, the Pork Butcher fron Grove Road; Mrs Lizzie Bandy, Miss J. Hogg Mr. A. Knight. I even had for a Resident here the oldest member of the Mothers' Union, enrolled by Mary Sumner herself, Mrs Clara Conquest who lived to be 97 years! Risdene has seen and known two centenarians, Mrs E. Hensman, formerly of Grove Road and Mrs A.M. Ainge, the latter lived to be 103, and in August 1957, we had a Diamond Wedding - Mr & Mrs George Mooring from Higham Ferrers.

What wonderful memories are mine - Good Days and Bad Days, and yet it lias been so packed full of happiness for these elderly residents of mine have always been or ery thing to me. In caring for the aged, I have learnt so much and I still this day go on learning, one can learn so much from an elderly person if you only listen and there is nothing an elderly person loves more than a good listener. Risdene to me is a challenge. I would like to see a lot of challenge in caring for the aged especially among the youth. If anyone reading this at the exhibition feels they would like to be of service in any way in -fee care of the aged, do not hesitate to offer, as help is always needed.

The Friends of Risdene are firmly established and doing a grand job. Rushden has always been so good to Risdene. I have never had to want for any help or assistance in any way. Long may Risdene go on and may it always be a credit to Rushden.

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