Care for the elderly in Northumberland.

Blowing bubbles in the sunshine

By 16th July 2018

Yesterday our residents were helping us blow some bubbles!

It seems a simple activity, but it helped everyone to have fun outside in the sunshine, especially those who might struggle to interact in other ways.

Some of our residents told us that it reminded them of doing exactly the same thing when they were young children, and we had a competition to see how many bubbles they could pop before they reached the ground.

We’ll certainly try out our bubble machine on another sunny day – we’re also going to use it for the next time the children from Little Tinklers nursery come to visit.

Our Community Respite Care Bed has helped over 15 families since January this year.

By 6th July 2018

In the first six months of 2018, our Community Respite Care Bed has helped over 15 Tynedale families by providing free of charge respite care to their loved ones.

As well as receiving expert care from our team of RGNs and care assistants, our respite residents have enjoyed taking part in all the crafting, gardening and musical activities that take place in our home, as well as our regular hairdresser, nail and reflexology appointments.

Ann is this week’s respite care resident. She’s shown here with one of her carers, Keith Harkiss, a Senior Care Assistant, who has worked at Charlotte Straker House for over 4 years.

Ann told me, “I was worried when I first came in, but now I’m here I’m enjoying the food and I like the people who look after me.”

Keith said “It’s all a matter of reassurance and making someone feel safe and happy to be away from home. This helps our respite residents to feel comfortable and have a relaxing stay”.

Thank you to all those who donated to fund our Community Respite Bed – it is certainly a much needed facility!

Our respite bed is now booked up to November, and we are also now taking bookings for 2019. To book or enquire after particular dates please contact Iwona Proszowska, Deputy Manager on 01434 633999 or email

Respite resident Ann with Senior Care Assistant Keith Harkiss.

Our two brand new resident rooms are now OPEN!

By 5th July 2018

We are delighted to say that the last remaining flat at Charlotte Straker House has been developed into two brand new resident rooms.

The large flat has been divided and refurbished with en-suite wet room facilities, high quality furnishings and fittings and overhead tracking.

This means that Charlotte Straker House has expanded its accommodation from 30 to 31 rooms (as one of our existing bedrooms will be turned into a much needed office).

Mary Robson moved into one of the new rooms on Saturday. Mary originally spent a week in our Community Respite Bed, and told us she liked it so much, that she decided to move in to become a full resident.

New resident Mary Robson having a cuddle with Nicola Pick, a member of our housekeeping team.

Mary told us that “I love the new room, it’s bright and airy and I’ve got all my favourite photos and things around me . The best thing is about being here is how friendly everyone is, and having a chat with my carers every day.”

Mary lived for many years on a farm in Ovingham, with her husband Mark and her family. She also worked as a sales assistant at Norma James of Corbridge, and told us she “dressed” the window display in the shop for over 30 years.

Marilyn Hunter, Manager of Charlotte Straker told us, “The whole team and I are delighted with the high quality refurbishment of these rooms. We have been looking forward to our residents moving into their new accommodation. The told us how pleased they are with the decoration and standard of fittings as well as the fact they love the new en-suite bathrooms!”

Berenice Groves, Chair of the Trustees added, “This refurbishment has been completely funded with donations. We are immensely grateful and would like to sincerely thank all our supporters whose generosity has allowed us to refurbish our new accommodation to such a high standard.”

Fish and Chips on a Sunny Day

By 5th July 2018

Thank you to the Angel Fish Shop for delivering fish and chips to our residents today.

Marcia from the Fish Shop arrived with individually boxed up fish and chips which were very popular – everyone had their own order, and the fish was fresh and the chips were crisp!

Karen, our Activities Coordinator, had arranged a “beach themed” day, with pretend sandcastles, iced Pimms to drink, themed place table decorations and ice creams in a cone for dessert. She had even organised for a soundtrack of waves on a beach to accompany our takeaway lunch.

At 2pm, talented accordionist Leonard will be visiting to play some more of his wonderful music – most of our residents enjoy singing along or clapping their hands to the songs.

Thank you very much to Marcia and her team for delivering the lunches – it was a real highlight of the day!

The Corbridge Memory Cafe – a valuable support to our residents.

By 22nd June 2018

Our residents, Alan, Lily, Joyce, Olive and Billy, visited the Corbridge Memory Cafe yesterday.

The cafe is held every month, on the third Thursday at the Corbridge village hall from 10.30 am to 12.30pm.

It’s a unique event in the village and is designed a wonderfully welcoming place for individuals with all types of memory loss, dementia or cognitive impairment. People and their families and carers can socialize, pass on information, strike up friendships and chat informally as well as finding out more about dementia and forms of support.

Melvin Stone is the organiser behind the café and each month arranges activities such as singing, exercises, films and games whilst Grants Artisan Bakery in Corbridge generously donates a variety of delicious cakes and pastries.

Karen, our Activites Coordinator, thinks the Memory Café is invaluable to our residents, “It’s a great way to socialise, to give a change of scenery and the chance to talk to different people”, she says. “Our residents love to reminisce and it gives them a chance to talk about things that are important to them. This then sparks up interesting conversations and helps them to feel connected to the past, which our residents can find very comforting and reassuring.”

Melvin added, “We set up the café to provide a comfortable place to ensure carers and their loved ones are supported and don’t feel isolated in the community. We’re helped by a great team of volunteers and businesses and I’ve seen a marked increase in the number of people who come each month.

Often, the monthly get togethers just give people a chance for a chat and a cup of tea and to talk through any issues. We try to arrange activities that appeal to everyone.”

Thank you to Melvin and his volunteers for setting up such an important addition to Corbridge life!

Melvin Stone, organiser of the Cafe (centre, standing) with our residents Alan and Joyce, plus volunteer Jane and staff member Mandy.

The delicious chocolate cake from Grants of Corbridge!

All the bakes and cakes from Grants of Corbridge.

Melvin, organiser of the cafe, with regular volunteer Graham.

Lily and Olive having a chat over a cup of tea.

Peter, Billy, Mandy and Alan all enjoying a cup of tea at the Cafe.

Volunteer Avril with our resident Lily having a cuddle!

Our Centenary Garden Party

By 11th June 2018

The Centenary celebrations continued on Sunday, with our Centenary Garden Party held in the gardens of Charlotte Straker House.

Ada Lyons and Lily Smith are residents at Charlotte Straker House and are both 100 years’ old this year. They helped to plant a special Centenary rose called “Charlotte” with help from our Manager Marilyn Hunter, and Deputy Iwona Proszowska.

Thanks to Gayle Foster from Vintage at the Tower, our supporters and Trustees were able to dress in period costumes and accessories to celebrate the day.

We were entertained by Helene Dolder, plus the talented Jive Alive dancers (who meet at the Hexham Torch Centre on Wednesdays at 8pm – all welcome), a chamber orchestra and a wonderful afternoon tea, prepared by Papaya.

Apart from one short downpour, the day was bright and sunny, and it was wonderful to such a great community of volunteers, staff and supporters.

Berenice Groves, our Chair of Trustees made a speech to thank all our supporters – we have included this below:

On behalf of the Trustees and the Charlotte Straker team we are delighted that you are here to participate and share in the celebrations for our Centenary Year.

We are commemorating and celebrating that 100 years ago Joseph Straker bequeathed Prior House to the community as a cottage hospital in memory of his wife Charlotte Straker.

I am convinced that if Joseph was here today he would be astonished and delighted to see how far the Charlotte Straker Project has grown since its humble beginnings in 1918.Over the past few decades our charity has weathered many obstacles NHS closure of the cottage hospital, losing our wonderful palliative care service in the GP beds.

But it is a testament to the grit, determination and dedication of our staff and the supporters that Charlotte Straker House has emerged as a unique and much-loved facility, firmly embedded within the local community.

Prior House and the cottage hospital was created to make a difference in the Corbridge community. It has done this and certainly continues to make a difference today. We are committed to evolving to ensure that we always remain relevant to the needs of our residents and the needs of the local community.

There are many years ahead of us, new and exciting projects.

Since 1918 we’ve been able to provide care and nursing to hundreds of residents and patients, from all areas of Northumberland and beyond. This is a HUGE achievement.

In 1992 a board of Trustees set up the wonderful Charlotte Straker project in order to continue to deliver care to our community – you can see the dedication as some of the original trustees are still with us today such as Ann Wagstaff and Bill Cunningham.

We continue to develop an example of this was the introduction of the Community Respite Bed which was has both surpassed all expectation both with how quickly the money to operate it was raised and the use.

Since 2017, our Community Respite Care has provided care for the loved ones of 27 separate families. And it is obvious from family and patient testimonials how essential this bed is to hard pressed carers in the community.Now, our facility can go onto a critically needed new phase as we explore options for new physical space in which we can help even more residents and patients.

We have recently converted the last vacant flat to provide more bedrooms to a great standard – again thanks to the funds raised by many here today.

The Charlotte Straker Project has touched so many lives since 1918 and has helped so many local families.We should all congratulate ourselves, that our charity is so essential, so well supported and so much loved.

So today we celebrate turning 100 years old, and I’m here to say thank you: to our committed staff, to those who volunteer selflessly week in week out, to the Corbridge businesses and traders who help us so much, to our dedicated Trustees, to our Friends and Crafty Women and all those who help us in any way. These groups and individuals are the reason we are here today, and we are so grateful.On behalf of the Charlotte Straker Project, thank you. Thank you for your dedication. Thank you for your hard work. Thank you for a century of remarkable commitment and care.”


Ada Lyons (seated left) and Lily Smith (seated right) are both 100 years’ old this year. They planted a Centenary Charlotte rose with help from Marilyn Hunter, our Manager and Iwona Proszowska, our Deputy Manager.

Bill Cunningham, Trustee and Berenice Groves, Chair of the Trustees is their wonderful period costumes!

Our Centenary Summer Fete

By 11th June 2018

Our Centenary Fete was held on Saturday and raised approximately £1,200 for the Charlotte Straker Project.

Joan McFadzean, one of our ex-Trustees, kindly opened the fete, and the sun blazed down and we had a great turnout of visitors to our stalls and games.

The icecream, cakes and cream teas went down a storm, and our Crafty Women stall, plant stall, book stall and tombola were very popular.

Thank you to everyone who made it such a success and to our friends at the following charities who brought their own stalls and games, and supported us on the day: Riding for the Disabled AssociationLifespanCarersNorthumberland Johnstone Anne-MarieTynedale Hospice at HomeTynedale Lions Club, our very own Crafty Women, Corbridge Youth-Initiative, 1st Tynedale Cubs and Scouts and Chrysalis at Tynedale.

(All images courtesy of Ian Wylie from Visit Corbridge)

Joan Fadzean and Bill Cunningham. Joan kindly opened our Summer Fete.

Berenice Groves, Chair of Trustees, Joan McFadzean and Bill Cunningham, Trustee.

Bill Cunningham, Trustee and Guy Opperman, MP, who came and supported us on the day.

Kevin Laing, MD of the Angel tests out our new Emergency Lifting Cushion!

By 21st May 2018

We managed to persuade Kevin Laing, MD of the Angel of Corbridge to make the first test of our new Emergency Lifting Cushion.  Read more on this piece of equipment here.

Iwona Proszowska assisted him in trying out the new cushion, and although Kevin looked a little bit worried, the new equipment worked brilliantly, and will be an essential new piece of kit at Charlotte Straker House.

We’d like to send a sincere thank you to all the traders, volunteers and supporters who helped us at the Corbridge Fashion Show, and we hope they can see that we have put their fundraising to good use.

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