International Women’s Day: Rosemary Henderson, Hatherleigh’s Resident Engineer: The Journey from Sewing Machines to Naval Helicopters

Sunday, 8th March is International Women’s Day; a day to celebrate women’s achievement, raise awareness against bias and promote gender equality. Rosemary Henderson, a member of the Hatherleigh family is one of many amazing women who live at the home, her story is shared below.  

Life for women in the 1950’s was very different to that of the one we know today. Women were largely seen as housewives. Dreams and aspirations of higher education and careers were never realised for many. In the 1960’s this began to change, as the oppressed challenged gender inequalities within society. The resultant was a boom in jobs for young single women and more pursuing education at a higher level.

Introducing Rosemary…

One of these determined and remarkable women who made her career during this time was Hatherleigh Nursing Home family member Rosemary Henderson. Having joined the Royal Navy in her early 20’s, Rosemary worked as an engineer, working on Rolls Royce helicopter engines. 

In an era when sexism was rife and female employment was still relatively low, Rosemary was responsible for keeping Britain’s naval force of helicopters safely in the air!

Based in Gosport, Hampshire during her naval service, while working in her highly skilled and challenging profession, she also met her love and future husband Bill.

Rosemary’s Naval career came to an end when the couple moved back to Bideford, where Rosemary spent most of her life, to raise the first of their two daughter’s Laura.

Sewing beginnings…

She first moved to the town as a child with her family, who ran the local sewing machine business ‘Weeks,’ which supplied local schools and businesses with their machines.

Growing up amongst so many sewing machines during her childhood left a lasting impression on Rosemary who continued to enjoy cross stitch and tapestry as a pastime many years later.

Now, Rosemary has been living at Hatherleigh for almost two years and is living with a dementia. Sadly, she is no longer able to enjoy needlework as she used too, due to the progression of her dementia. Despite this, at the home, magazines, fabric, and other textile materials are always available for Rosemary to connect with.

Having these personal and meaningful occupational items around the home creates an opportunity for positive feelings or memories of previous pastimes enjoyed. These can be sparked at the feel of the cotton in between her fingers or at the sight of a beautifully woven tapestry.

Rosemary Henderson is a loved and valued member of the Hatherleigh family who is respected for her impressive engineering career, challenging of the status quo and aspiring to achieve more than many of her contemporaries.

This International Women’s Day, Hatherleigh Nursing Home honour not only Rosemary, but all the incredible women who call Hatherleigh their home and the continual impact they have on society and on their local community.

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National Poetry Day

National Poetry Day at Hatherleigh Nursing Home

Karen Tidy – Carer of People, Rhymer of Words

October 3rd was the 25th anniversary of National Poetry Day and the theme of this year’s literacy celebration was ‘Truth.’

Karen Tidy, a Senior Governance Nurse who supports Hatherleigh Nursing Home, has written a collection of poems about some of the stark realities for people living with a dementia.

Karen, who was thrown into caring for her family after her father had passed away when she was aged ten, made the transition into professional caring when she became of age.

The poetry she writes comes purely from emotions deep within and from past experiences whilst giving end of life care before her time at Hatherleigh Nursing Home. During this time, she observed many people confined to their beds who were unable to verbalise or feed themselves anymore, which prompted her to wonder what they were thinking about and what they were feeling.

She says it is imperative that the people she cared for were still spoken to and included in everyday discussions. As soon as you stop doing that, she explained, that person becomes part of a conveyor belt system, on their way to their end, rather than thinking of them as a living person, complete with their feelings and frailties.

Karen reads her poetry to those who she cares for and loves, to whom so many have been so lucky. An excerpt from Karen’s poem, ‘What is Time to Me?’ is featured below.

What is Time to Me?

A second, a minute, an hour a day

What does it matter to me anyway?

I get up in a morning, have a cup of tea

The time of day doesn’t matter to me.

It seems like a rush, I feel like a number

Just leave me in bed to finish my slumber

Don’t rush me along and then down to the table

Let me take my time – you know I’m not able

To give myself food or make myself clean

Well I am 94, have you not seen

How feeble I am and how slowly I walk

All you do is rush and consistently talk

About which one is next, or what else to do

You just make me feel like a burden to you

I’ve just settled down and sat in my chair

To have 40 winks and then someone’s there

It’s my bath day today I wish they wouldn’t hover

And rush me again it’s just so much bother

Its mid-afternoon I just want to nap

Not be pestered and tugged and dunked in the bath

Leave me ‘till later when I go to bed

But please do not hurry, go slowly instead

And seeing as you’re listening, I might as well say

Don’t put me to bed to get me out your way

I know I might hinder you as I wander around

But I like to feel free to walk up and down

Or to watch the TV once in a while

I’m sorry if this cramps your routine and style

But try and imagine just how I feel

When time dictates every drink, every meal

Every conversation – and sometimes they’re few

Is dictated by how much you’ve got to do

©Karen Tidy 2011

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