Residents enjoy “magical” Christmas celebrations

Residents enjoy “magical” Christmas celebrations zoom

Cherry Wood Grange, an award-winning, 66-bed care home, offering nursing, dementia, residential, respite and end of life care, went above and beyond to make their Christmas celebrations extra special for their residents.

Everyone had a “magical” time celebrating the home’s official Christmas lights switch on and meeting real-life reindeer in the garden.

The Chelmsford care home has recently been a Regional Finalist at the Great British Care Awards for ‘Putting People First’, so it was no surprise their celebration was such a success amongst the residents and their family and friends.

The evening, which was also enjoyed by members of the community, had VIP Mayor of Chelmsford, Councillor Linda Mascot in attendance but it was the reindeers who stole the show.

“It was fantastic being so close to these beautiful animals,” says resident, Kathy Sousta, 82, while nursing resident, Michael Howcroft, 86, says, “I loved coming to see the reindeer because I love animals. They are amazing.”

Among those who enjoyed meeting and feeding the reindeer was nursing resident, Vera Wadland, 89. “It was unbelievable,” Vera says, “I loved feeding them carrots and I think they enjoyed it too.”


Vera’s great granddaughter, Rosie, 6, was thrilled to meet the animals in real life. “Are these reindeers Santa’s reindeers?” she asked and jumped for joy when she realised she could feed them.

Vera is the mother of the care home manager, Sue Smith, who was honoured to turn the lights on. Sue wrote a poem for the occasion, reading it out before everyone joined in with the countdown for the light switch on. Sue says,


“It truly was a magical sight and as the home manager I felt very proud. Residents and their family members were saying they were the best lights they’d ever seen.


“The reindeer were a lot of fun too. My mum had such a beaming smile on her face whilst she was feeding them, she was truly in her element.”

Alongside the reindeer visit, residents and their loved ones enjoyed mulled wine, hot chocolate and mince pies and were treated to live music and karaoke. Mayor Linda was dancing with everyone, but resident, John Wheeler, 75, was hailed the life and soul of the party, dancing and singing with entertainer Jo. “The atmosphere was delightful,” he says, “all the staff helped to make it memorable for the residents.”


The caring team carefully decorated the home inside and out to make it special for the residents and the decorations brought back memories for John of Christmases spent with his mother as a child. “I loved the decorations she used to make and put up around the house to make it really special for me” he says.


Resident Ann Marrett, 86, was also very taken by the home’s festive feel. “I adore the decorations, I love them so much and they make the home look so festive,” she says. “I never take them for granted as I’ll always remember seeing the very first coloured Christmas tree lit up after the war as a child. It’s my favourite Christmas memory.”


Ann, is very close to her family and enjoyed the evening with her two daughters. “My family mean the world to me and it was magical making these special memories with my daughters. We had a fantastic time.”


For lifestyle coordinator, Bexy Harmer, this will be her fifth Christmas at Cherry Wood Grange.


“For me, the Christmas light switch on was magical,” she says. “It was fantastic to have so many residents, their loved ones, visitors from the community and team members all enjoying themselves and it was lovely to see everyone all coming together.


“It’s very heart-warming to hear the residents talk about their best Christmas memories and it also means a lot that we can continue to support residents in making new memories and having new experiences – like meeting reindeer! It was the best way to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.”