Care for the elderly in Northumberland.

Our brand new Emergency Lifting Cushion! Bought with funds from the #Corbridge Fashion Show

By 18th May 2018

Kevin Laing, Managing Director of The Angel of Corbridge visited us yesterday, to present a cheque from The Angel’s recent charity quiz night. The evening raised over £800 which will be split between the Charlotte Straker Project and the Corbridge Youth Initiative.

The funds raised from the recent Corbridge Fashion Show at the Angel of Corbridge has also allowed us to buy an essential piece of equipment, the Mangor Elk emergency lifting cushion.

This is used to help a fallen person safely back into a sitting position. It is recommended by most UK NHS Ambulance Trusts as a key piece of emergency equipment and helps reduce injuries for fallen residents and their carers.

We are so grateful to Kevin and his team at the Angel, and all the other Corbridge traders who have been so supportive and generous to our charity. We hope they can see that the funds raised have been put to very good use. Finale Shoes and AccessoriesNorma James of CorbridgeShorts of CorbridgeCroft and Graves Optometrists Vintage at the Tower Reflections HAIR and BeautyKatie Kerr Shop and many more!

We also have a great video of Kevin trying out the new equipment – we’re hoping to post that shortly 😁😁😁



(The picture shows from l to r – Berenice Groves, Chair of our Trustees, Angela Jones, Chair of our Fundraising Committee, Kevin Laing MD of the Angel of Corbridge, Lesley Thirlwell, Vice Chair of our Trustees and Iwona Prosowska, Deputy Manager of Charlotte Straker House)

Centenary Summer Fete – Saturday 9th June from 2pm.

By 14th May 2018

Our Centenary Summer Fete is on Saturday 9th June from 2pm.

We will have lots of stalls including a tombola, book stall, plant stall, Crafty Women plus stalls from many other local charities and organisations.

There will be cream teas, ices, a cake stall and face painting for the children plus music from the Tyne Valley Band.

Everyone is welcome – come and have a great Summer afternoon at Charlotte Straker House in Corbridge!

The Angel of Corbridge raises money for us with their famous annual quiz!

By 2nd May 2018

Last Friday, The Angel of Corbridge held their famous Annual Quiz.

The evening was a huge success and in total they raised £816 that will be split between the two chosen projects: ourselves and Corbridge Youth-Initiative.

Seventy-two people attended (including a team from Charlotte Straker) with local quizmaster Alistair Jenkins keeping everything on track. The quiz was quite challenging and went to a tiebreak after two teams both scored 91 out of 120.

The Angel donated £5 from each entrant, raised money from their raffle and from 3 auction prizes including a bid for their pizza Street Food for a private event.

Thank you VERY much to the staff from the Angel who organised the event, and for raising such a great amount for our charity!

Visiting High House Farm to see the newborn lambs.

By 1st May 2018

A group of our residents, staff and volunteers visited High House Farm Brewery in the sunshine yesterday, to see Pint Sized Farmers‘ lambs and to see around the farm.

They met Candy the Shetland pony, and helped feed her some treats. Everyone went up to the sheep sheds and had a chance to give Sparkle the pregnant ewe some sheep nuts and watch the tiniest lambs playing in the straw.

We all then went to see the pet lambs and everyone enjoyed watching them skip about in the sunshine. Wilfrid the pet lamb was a particular favourite, and we all had a cuddle. Our Activities Coordinator was tempted to take him home with her, to become a Charlotte Straker mascot, but was persuaded to leave him behind!

Everyone then had a delicious soup and sandwich lunch at High House Farm Brewery. Many thanks to Heather and Lizzie from the brewery for looking after us so well.

It was wonderful to be out in the fresh air, and to see all the farm animals enjoying the sunshine. Thank to everyone who helped on the visit!

Tesco #BagsofHelp and our brand new garden furniture!

By 25th April 2018

Thanks to everyone who voted for the Charlotte Straker Project #BagsofHelp initiative in the Tesco store in 2017, we have some brand new garden furniture!

Just in time for the better weather, the high quality tables, chairs and planters will allow our residents to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine.

Tesco teamed up with Groundwork to launch its community funding scheme, which sees grants – all raised from carrier bag sales in Tesco stores – being awarded to local community projects.

The grant towards our new furniture will really make a difference to our residents and Charlotte Straker House.

Thank you very much to Tesco and everyone who voted for us in store.

The Quiz of the Year – in aid of the Charlotte Straker Project

By 10th April 2018


Our great friends The Angel of Corbridge are having a fabulous Quiz on the 27th April, in aid of ourselves and the Corbridge Youth Initiative

It’s only £10 per ticket, which includes Street Food during the interval and a £5 donation.

There will be a raffle and auction on the evening plus £100 Angel Vouchers for winning team – the questions cover a huge range of subjects!

Please book direct with The Angel on 01434 632119 – teams are allowed up to six people

We hope you can support this charitable Corbridge event!

More information can be found on The Angel of Corbridge’s Facebook page.

Spotlight on our Staff: Iwona Proszowska, Deputy Manager

By 27th March 2018

Our hard-working Deputy Manager at Charlotte Straker House is Iwona (pronounced “Eve-vonna”) Proszowska.

Iwona and her family are from Rumia, a city in the Eastern Pomerania region of north-western Poland.  In 2005,

Iwona already had 15 years’ experience as a registered nurse in Poland, and she moved to the UK to continue her career in the North East of England.

“When I moved to England I had to leave my husband and three children behind for a few months, whilst I sorted out my work and living arrangements. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, to leave them for so long. It was very difficult, but I wanted to do it, to make a better life for our family.”

In July 2006 her husband Robert joined her in the UK. Then three months later, in September 2006, her three children, Adrian, Rafal and Karol moved and promptly started school in Ovingham and Prudhoe.

“The language was tricky. My children picked up English very quickly but we all found the Geordie accent a bit incomprehensible for a while!”

When she moved to the UK, Iwona found “a lot of support. Most people were very kind and welcomed us with open arms. Occasionally, there was difficulties: we had someone write anti-Polish graffiti on our car, but mostly everyone was lovely, and helped us a lot.”

Her youngest child Sofie was born in 2009 and she is bilingual, speaking both Polish and English.

After joining Charlotte Straker in 2014, Iwona was made Deputy Manager. Her husband also joined, working as a care assistant on night shifts.

Iwona also manages our Community Respite Care Bed and lights up with enthusiasm when she talks about the facility,

“I see some very tired, and very desperate families that need our support, and I am so pleased that I can help them with providing respite care. You can see the relief of their faces when I tell them that they can relax, and we will care for their relatives for a while. I had one lovely lady who brought her elderly husband for respite care for five days. She told me that she was so exhausted, that whilst we were looking after her husband she stayed in bed for four days, just to recover. I can see how much the Respite Care Bed is needed, and this makes me determined to keep the facility open, full to the brim and part of the Charlotte Straker project forever”.

As Deputy Manager, Iwona is responsible for the clinical side at Charlotte Straker House,

“We have some very passionate, very committed staff in our care home. Charlotte Straker employs some excellent staff, and it is such a gift to be able to work with nurses and carers like myself, who are enthusiastic about giving the best possible care to our residents. I love my job, and I like to make a difference to resident’s lives and to make them as comfortable and happy as I possibly can. I have made many good friends in this nursing home, and I love the fact that we have such a good team, that are trustworthy and are as passionate as I am about our residents.

Outside Charlotte Straker, Iwona tries to spend as much time as she can with her family,

“As Robert works nightshifts, we don’t see each other that much, but when we can we like to go out to walk our dogs in the countryside. I also love ice-skating, except I’ve just cracked a rib falling on the ice, so I won’t be able to go for a while!”

Thank you to Iwona – if you would like to discuss any aspect of respite care please give her a call on 01434 633999.


An interview with resident Margaret Young

By 27th March 2018

I sat down with Charlotte Straker resident Margaret Young, to ask her about her life and children. She sits in her neat room, in a comfortable chair and prepares to tell me about her teaching career and living in the centre of Newcastle in the 1950s and 60s.

She has a picture of her wedding day on her dresser.  In the photo she is wearing a beautiful 1950s style nipped in dress with a wide flaring skirt, and a neat hat. Her husband looks very smart in a double-breasted suit.

“When I was married, I moved to Newcastle upon Tyne with my husband Jack. That dress was pale blue, as we couldn’t get white material, due to rationing”, she tells me, pointing to the picture, “you had to have so many coupons, and they were difficult to get hold of. And I made that hat from some fabric and net that was left over.”

She continues, “During the war, Jack worked in the shipyards in Sunderland, so after retraining, he moved to Hexham to start work as woodwork teacher, and I started as a teacher at the new school in Longbenton”.

Margaret taught juniors and seniors at Longbenton for 12 months, and then left to have her first child Anthony.

“I had six children in total, one after the other and at one point, had six children under seven years old!” she tells me with a laugh. “I didn’t have a lot of help as my family was still in Wolverhampton, although Jack’s sisters used to come when they could, to give me a hand. I remember sitting them all in the big, wide pram we used to have. I put two babies at the top end, two at the bottom end, and two more walking. They were all on “baby reins” up to three years old because as toddlers as it was impossible to keep an eye on them all.  It was hard work, but we had lots of fun. I remember bouncing the pram as I walked along the street, making all the children laugh. My husband thought I was mad!”

She was very proud when two of her children, Anthony and Vanda, won scholarships to the RGS and Central High School in Newcastle.

Margaret says, “We didn’t have a lot of money, and I remember being terribly worried about affording the uniforms for these private schools. Luckily, there were second hand shops that I could buy clothes at a discount. It was hard to make ends meet. We couldn’t afford for the children to go on any school trips, so instead, we used to holiday in the Lake District. We had an old Bedford van with slatted seats. I made cushions for the seats, and took sleeping bags, and piled in all the camping gear. We pulled two wooden boats behind the van and I wanted to hang all the saucepans from their gunwales for a bit of space!  We went to the Lake District like that with the children crammed in the back. It was our second home, and everyone loved it.”

After the children were a little older, Margaret went back to work as a teacher at Cruddas Park School in Scotswood, Newcastle and she taught there for another 18 years.

“It was a lovely school”, she remembers. “It was a deprived area, but the parents, for the most part, were good people. No one had much money, but we knew all the families and I got to know their circumstances. The children were wonderful, and I loved every one of them.  I remember my husband visiting the school, and he told me that every child he met was polite and well-behaved.”

Margaret tells me about some of her classes, “I remember teaching one group of seven-year-olds and I was trying to persuade them to join my choir. Well, they wouldn’t. They told me that singing was sissy. So, the next day I brought in a record of a Welsh male voice choir. I told them that they were all miners. ‘And were miners sissy?’ After that they all wanted to sing. I changed their mind!”

She used some traditional teaching methods. “I used to teach times-tables and spellings by rote and make them stand up to practice them. And we did mental arithmetic out loud in class. The children loved it. I never had any trouble with discipline. They were honestly very good-natured children.”

After Margaret and Jack retired from teaching, they moved away from Denton Burn to a house in Prudhoe. “My husband Jack was well known in Hexham and as he was a woodwork teacher at Queen Elizabeth School he used to be called Jackie Plank! Everyone knew him. After retiring, we used to enjoy just being in the house, doing the garden and going on trips.”

After her husband died Margaret moved into Charlotte Straker House. She has 13 grand-children and 5 great-grandchildren.

“I’m proud of all my children. They are all in professional careers and have families. Although I tell them I could have done with someone useful, like a brickie or a tiler!” she says with a twinkle.

When it was time to choose a care home, her children visited lots of different homes in the North East. “Charlotte Straker was the nicest. Just the carers and the nurses and the general feel of the place” she says, “I love it here. I like the staff, and the chat and I love the food.”

Margaret’s children (Anthony, John, Paul, Vanda, Yvonne and Ingrid), grand-children and great-grand-children visit regularly, and she goes on most of the outings organised by our Activities Coordinator, Karen.  A couple of weeks ago, her daughters took her to see the ballet in Newcastle.

“I do enjoy it here. I feel well looked after, and I love chatting with my friends” she tells me.

I tell Margaret that I need to show her this interview before it’s published.

“I’ll check it carefully with my teacher’s red pen,” she tells me laughing, “you might get a big tick and a star at the end!”

Margaret with her youngest daughter Ingrid.


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