With the red, white and blue bunting up, the Union flags and pictures of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on display around the home it was well and truly ‘Royal Wedding’ month in May. We looked forward to celebrating the Royal wedding with a special pre-wedding tea party with singing by the lovely and talented Jane. This was ahead of the big event itself on Saturday 19th May and as well as this resident also enjoyed Royal quizzes, Royal wedding reminiscence and discussion over the course of the Royal wedding week.

Firstly, though on Friday 11th May Hill House undertook its annual trip to see the beautiful bluebell glades close to the village of Ellisfield, Hampshire. This year we took two groups one during the morning and one in the afternoon to see this lovely spectacle. Residents enjoyed a spring trip into the countryside, with sheep, lambs and cows in the pastures, golden fields of oilseed in full flower, pheasants and partridges in the hedgerows, as well as the pretty villages en route. Once we arrived some residents walked a little way into the woods and then the two groups enjoyed an impromptu picnic with refreshments in the taxi whilst admiring the carpets of blue-mauve bluebells from their seats. Everyone that joined us on these two trips declared they had had a most enjoyable time.

On the afternoon of Thursday 17th May Hill House opened its doors to the local community with a spring open afternoon. To celebrate Hill House welcomed back Gareth to sing for us. Residents and some relatives sat down to an afternoon of popular songs and music by artists such as Frank Sinatra, Cliff Richard and Neil Diamond. Songs were specially selected to appeal to the residents, and this meant residents were soon on the dancefloor moving to the music they remembered and loved! Gareth interspersed his songs with some gentle humour which got everyone chuckling as well as enjoying the lively music. Afterwards residents enjoyed tea and coffee, delightful homemade cakes, freshly baked scones, jam, and cream.

On the afternoon of Friday 18th May residents from across all three homes came together to enjoy an afternoon of musical entertainment ahead of the eagerly awaited Royal Wedding on the Saturday after. Jane, a very talented mezzo soprano, delighted the residents with a selection of love songs in celebration of the forthcoming nuptials. Soon residents were singing, and in some cases even dancing, along to some well-loved and soon remembered tunes. Songs included ‘It Must be Love!’ as sung originally by Nat King Cole, ‘Get me to the Church on Time!’ from the musical ‘My Fair Lady’ and ‘Happy Talk’ from South Pacific, to name just a few. The musical entertainment was followed with a ‘Right Royal Tea Party’ with cupcakes, scones, a glass of bubbly, sherry or wine for those who wanted it, along with lots of tea and coffee. Those that attended expressed how much they had enjoyed the event and they were looking forward to seeing the actual wedding on the big screen the following day.

On the afternoon of Friday 25th May, Farnham Mill opened its brand-new doors to host the annual talent show. Staff from across all four homes, Woodlands, Hill Brow, Hill House and Farnham Mill itself all entered teams for what turned out to be a wonderfully entertaining event. Some residents and relatives also attended, as well as staff, all of whom were given the opportunity to see our fabulous new home for the very first time. The event took place on the second floor, with the serene mill pond and trees in the background which was much admired.

Five different teams entered as follows: ‘The Adminions,’’Hill Brow Hakas,’ ‘Woodlands Hopefuls,’ ‘Hill House Sunflowers,’ and representing Farnham Mill ‘The Millside Maidens.’ First ‘The Adminions’ brought us their cute version of ‘Doh a Deer!’ in fabulous matching outfits very cleverly made by Andy in accounts. Credit to our Louis who even managed to sing a solo to begin with despite getting over a severe sore throat! Then the ‘Hill Brow Hakas’ grass skirts, face paint and all, danced, shimmied and then broke into a full blown New Zealand style haka that even had some people crying with laughter!

After this ‘The Millside Maidens’ dressed for the seaside with props to match sang a tribute to the new home ‘I Do Like to be Beside the Millside!’ encouraging everyone to join in. Then the ‘Woodlands Hopefuls’ sung a delightful song about sunflowers with Amy doing a solo. The team wore beautifully made sunflower headgear, reflecting the company’s ethos of the Sunflower Project. Finally, the ‘Hill House Sunflowers’ sang ‘You are my Sunshine’ with nodding sunflowers, sunflower adorned t-shirts and deely boppers, accompanied by Grace on the guitar.

Following this Lorraine and Jade working in the brand-new kitchen served a fabulous afternoon buffet with sandwiches, cupcakes, various hot savouries, tea, coffee, soft drinks and juice for everyone in attendance. The audience enjoyed refreshments, as they watched the second part video of The Hill House Sunflowers’ performance. This video, very skilfully created by our volunteer David, featured all the staff and a lot of the residents. It also beautifully represented the company’s ethos of the Sunflower and the values of longevity, adoration, and loyalty. It is fair to say, it was so moving that it brought a tear to many, as they watched residents both past and present.

Having reviewed the performances, Alison then called everyone together to announce the overall winners of the talent show. It was decided that all five teams deserved recognition. On that basis, prizes were awarded for ‘Best Costumes,’ ‘Most Creative,’ ‘Best Song,’ ‘Most Entertaining’ and ‘Best Props,’ whereupon everyone that had performed was allowed a mystery sunflower themed prize. After this, tours were conducted of the new home, and residents and relatives were very impressed with the rooms, facilities, building and gardens of Farnham Mill. All in all, it was an afternoon of warmth, love and laughter that truly reflected the company’s ethos, and the genuine care, love and passion we put into our jobs.