Care for the elderly in Northumberland.

Our Christmas trip to Dobbies Garden Centre

By 12th December 2018

A group of our residents, volunteers, student nurses and staff visited Dobbies Garden Centre in Ponteland today to do some Christmas shopping.

We always love our visit to Dobbies in December, as the decorations make everyone feel very Christmassy, and the staff look after us so well.

We enjoyed a delicious Christmas lunch, then enjoyed a little more shopping before heading home.

Thank you to our volunteers and staff who organised and helped during the visit, as well as the very helpful staff at Dobbies.

Our Tree of Lights at Charlotte Straker

By 10th December 2018

We held a moving Tree of Lights service yesterday at Charlotte Straker House.  Jenny the vicar led the short service and residents, staff and visitors took the opportunity to remember and celebrate the lives of their loved ones.

Thank you to the choir for singing carols, and to our volunteers for arranging mince pies and mulled wine.

In total, 38 remembrance stars have been bought – thank you so much to all those who ordered an engraved star. We hope you will enjoy seeing them displayed on our Tree. Please remember you can pick up your star from our office during our usual opening hours.

Shop with Amazon and earn money for our charity.

By 5th December 2018

Do you use Amazon for online shopping?

The Charlotte Straker Project has signed up to Amazon Smile, just in time for the Christmas shopping rush.

When you click on the link below, and select us as your “charity of choice”, Amazon donates 0.5% of the net purchase price (excluding VAT, returns and shipping fees) of eligible purchases to the Charlotte Straker Project. All donations will help pay for essential equipment and resources for our respite, residential and nursing residents.

Please support us by starting your Christmas shopping at Amazon Smile and help us with every penny you spend.

Our residents visit St. Andrews Christmas Tree Festival in Corbridge.

By 5th December 2018

Our residents had a wonderful visit to the St. Andrew’s Christmas Tree Festival on Monday.

Our own Charlotte Straker tree won a Silver Award in the competition. Thank you to the judges!

Our residents, staff and volunteers enjoyed a cup of coffee and a mince pie, and loved looking at all the different types of trees – the creativity was amazing!

Student nurses at Charlotte Straker House.

By 28th November 2018

We have four fantastic student nurses working with the Charlotte Straker team this week and next.

Abbey, Sam, Jess and Angela are studying at the Northumbria University, and are in their first year of a BSc (Hons) in Adult Nursing. They are shadowing our team of RGNs and care assistants, learning best practice in how to care and treat elderly residents.

Iwona has been keeping a close eye on their training and says that they are “doing really well”. I think our residents are also enjoying seeing some new faces.

We’re delighted to be able to provide training to these future nurses – good luck in your studies Abbey, Sam, Jess and Angela!

Charity Christmas Cards for the Charlotte Straker Project

By 21st November 2018

Corbridge Charity Christmas Cards

Packs of five cards £3.50 and single cards £1.20

This year a charity Corbridge Christmas card has been produced, with 10 pence from every card going to ourselves and the Corbridge Youth Initiative.

The beautiful photograph of Corbridge Church was taken by Corbridge resident Ian Wylie.  The cards are available from Skrumshus sweet shop in Corbridge and our office in Charlotte Straker House.

If you’re thinking of buying your Christmas cards soon, please support us by buying a pack – every penny raised for us goes towards essential equipment and resources to help our residents at Charlotte Straker House.

Please support our Crafty Women at the CYI Christmas Fair – 24th Nov ’18

By 17th November 2018

The Corbridge Youth Initiative Christmas Fair,

24th Nov 2018 at Corbridge Parish Hall, 10 am – 2 pm.

Our Crafty Women will have their own stall selling beautiful hand made shawls, cushions, Christmas decorations and homeware. We are raffling a gorgeous mohair shawl in lemon (shown in picture below), hand made by Penny Ely. Raffle tickets are £1 and only available from the Fair.

The Fair will have a raffle, tombola, cake and produce stall, toys and games for children and Santa’s Grotto. Coffees, teas, scones and home made soup available.

Entry is only £1.50 (children free) and includes a Christmas cake raffle ticket.  Please come and support our Crafty Women – all proceeds from their stall go towards the Charlotte Straker Project.

Remembrance Stories – Margaret Furness – Keswick Evacuee

By 14th November 2018

As Remembrance Sunday is coming up, we’ve been asking our residents about their own memories of World War 2.

Margaret Furness was evacuated from the Central High School in Newcastle to Keswick in Cumbria.


Margaret Furness was 11 years old and a pupil at the Central High School for Girls in Newcastle upon Tyne when World War 2 broke out in 1939.

Towards the end of 1939 the school was warned by the Government that evacuation could occur any day, due to the risk of bombing. In early September, three hundred and nineteen Central High girls travelled to Keswick by train, and Margaret was eventually lodged with a single lady, who apparently wasn’t best pleased that she now had to look after an eleven-year-old girl.

“She never showed me any affection at all. I was so miserable and desperate to go home the first week that I was physically sick. She never gave me a cuddle or a kind word.”

Did you stay with her during the whole war?

“Yes. Apart from holidays, when we were sent home with our parents. Which is a bit strange, as the whole point was to remove us from any bombing risk and yet they sent us home after each term!”

Where did you have lessons?

“We took over Keswick School. The Keswick pupils had lessons in the afternoon, and then the Central Girls had them in the morning. I spent a lot of time outside, as she didn’t like me hanging around in the house. I wasn’t allowed to help with any housework or cooking, as she was so houseproud and said I would make a mess. I was expected to be out of the house the whole day, never mind the weather.”

Did you get used to being away from your family?

“Well, I settled down a bit. There was a War on. You had to just get on with it. What was the point of making a fuss? I missed my family terribly, but I coped. At first, my parents visited and stayed over the road at Fletcher’s Hotel. There was petrol rationing on of course though, so they couldn’t come very often. One of our teachers set up a Guides troupe, which I joined, and that really helped, as I really enjoyed the meetings and doing all the badges and things.”

Did the teachers organise activities to keep you busy?

Yes, they were excellent, and we had games of hockey, tennis, rounders and nature rambles in the summer. In the winter, we had knitting sessions in Crossthwaite Parish Room, and I was allowed to knit for the RAF as I was a good knitter. The RAF wool was lovely and soft to handle. The skating and sledging were great, and we revelled in it. I spent as much time as possible outside, and of course I was not allowed a key, but little did she know I could get in through the kitchen window if she was out!”

What happened after the War?

“I did a year in the Sixth Form, and then decided to become a Nurse. I went to Edinburgh for an 18-month nursing course, and after that I joined the Newcastle General Hospital” (We found out that Margaret won Gold Medallist for the year she was a trainee at the General Hospital). In 1955 I became a Theatre Sister and worked for a long time in Hexham Hospital”.

Did you ever go back to Keswick to see the lady you lived with?

“Once. I was working in Carlisle and I went back to Keswick to spend the day with her. Funnily enough, we had a good chat and a pleasant day. I think it was different, as I was grown up. I never saw her again after that though.

The best thing about Keswick was the road home. It was an unhappy time, cut off from my family, shut in by the hills, knowing we were resented. But I learned self-confidence and independence. No use grumbling – there was a war on – and we had to just get on with whatever it might be.”

Margaret’s account of her time as an evacuee has also been featured in “A Safe Haven – Evacuees in Keswick 1939 – 1945” by Brian Wilkinson which can be found on Amazon.

Evacuees walking down the Main Street in Keswick.

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