Waltham Abbey care home organises ‘trip down memory lane’ as retired teacher turns 90

Lifestyle / Sun 16th Jun 2024 at 09:57am

FORMER primary school teacher Barbara Utting, who now lives at Honey Lane Care Home in Waltham Abbey, celebrated her 90th birthday (May 24) by visiting the school she taught at 30 years ago.

To help mark Barbara’s milestone birthday, the team at Honey Lane Care Home organised for her to visit Hillhouse CofE Primary School, a school she taught at during the 90s. 

Children from the Year 3 class gave Barbara birthday cards which they had made, balloons and a bouquet of flowers, before presenting her with a cake and singing ‘Happy Birthday’. The children also performed a dance for Barbara on the school field.

Honey Lane Care Home, located on Honey Lane, off Margherita Road, provides specialist residential dementia care and has been Barbara’s home since November of last year.

The school visit was part of a week-long celebration to mark Barbara’s birthday and acknowledge her strong relationship to the Waltham Abbey area.

Lisa Gammalliere, lifestyle manager, explained: “Barbara has led a very active and social life, and that has continued at the care home. Our team take the time to get to know our residents so that we understand what they love and what’s important to them.

“It’s our aim to create wonderful new memories for our residents, so we were delighted to help make Barbara’s birthday one to remember!”

A well-known figure in the Waltham Abbey community, Barbara attended Hockerill Teacher Training College, qualifying as a teacher in 1954, after which she taught at infant and junior schools across Waltham Abbey.

“It was a wonderful surprise to revisit the school and the children made such a fuss of me,” said Barbara. 

“It was a real trip down memory lane, I even got to chat to one of my former pupils who is now a teaching assistant at the school!

“The educator in me is still there and being back in the classroom with the children it felt like I was back in my teaching days.

“I never expected a whole week of celebrations, what a way to mark this milestone.”

Barbara married husband Keith in 1965. After a career break from teaching to raise their two children – John and Rachel, Barbara returned to teaching and worked at Hillhouse (then known as St Lawrence) during the early 90s.

As an added surprise, the care home team organised for Barbara to visit the place of her birth.

Barbara’s parents – John and Ida – were tenant farmers at Waltham Abbey when she was born in the farmhouse in 1934. To celebrate her birth, John planted two sapling silver birch trees by the farmhouse, which have now grown into two mature trees.

Lisa, who accompanied Barbara alongside her two children, said: “We’ve heard Barbara’s stories about the trees, so it was wonderful to see her standing beneath them with her children. They ate a very fitting legacy for Barbara, as she has such strong ties to the Waltham Abbey community.”

The family also organised a birthday party at the farmhouse, which is now a café, where family and friends gathered to celebrate Barbara’s birthday.

Rachel, Barbara’s daughter, said: “Mum really enjoys life at Honey Lane Care Home, she has settled in, made some great friends, and definitely enjoys the activities – especially Mini Bus Monday and the baking activities. 

“Mum is so proud of the fact that she was born and raised, worked all her life, and still lives in Waltham Abbey.

“She has such a strong bond with the community in addition to being a teacher.

“She was Tawny Owl for the Brownies, even having the little girls from her group at her wedding, treasurer for the Townswomen Guild, an active member of Waltham Abbey Musical Theatre Company, churchwarden in the early 90s at Waltham Abbey Church – including singing in the church choir for 16 years – and an active member of Mothers’ Union.

“Today, she still loves going to church and catching up with her friends in the Mothers Union.”

Lisa added: “Barbara always participates in our sing-a-longs, and attends the weekly church service, she is a big fan of the fortnightly Honey Bees visits and loves receiving lots of cuddles with the children.

“We arrange lots of animal visits, which Barbara is always the first to get involved with, she talks about her dad being a farmer and tells us all stories about the animals she used to look after on the farm.”

Honey Lane Care Home is rated ‘Good’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and was awarded ‘Highly Commended’ at the Great British Care Awards 2023 for ‘Dementia Care’.

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1 Comment for Waltham Abbey care home organises ‘trip down memory lane’ as retired teacher turns 90:

Rachel Matthews ( nee Utting).
2024-06-23 18:39:30

Lisa and Honey Lane Care Home are brilliant. Thanks to them, Hillhouse, Olive Branch, Waltham Abbey Church, The Plough helping our family to make memories for Mum celebrating her 90th. By the way the trees are Copper Beaches not Silver Birches ( my Dad would be turning in his grave at that error - he worked in horticulture). Thank you for the lovely write up.

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