Residents at our care home had a ‘hoot’ meeting feathery Harry Potter star


The residents and staff at our care home recently enjoyed meeting a cast member from the Harry Potter films and we were starstruck by the feathery celebrity.

The VIP attended a community open day here at Barrowhill Hall, our 74-bedroom residential and nursing home, which specialises in caring for those living with dementia and memory loss, on the Derbyshire/Staffordshire border.

The snowy owl, previously called Annabelle but now affectionately known as Hedwig, starred as Harry Potter’s pet owl in the early Harry Potter films. She was brought to the event by Kingsley Bird and Falconry Centre based in Cheadle.

Our resident, Jean Langton, 89, is a huge Harry Potter fan and she enjoyed the ‘meet-and-greet’ experience with her husband, Ken. The couple were celebrating their wedding anniversary of 61 years, and this experience made it an extra special day for them.

“It was a fantastic wedding anniversary treat,” Jean says, “it made our day! Hedwig was very exciting to hold. I felt very proud, and I can’t believe I’ve been so close to a Harry Potter star!”

June McNicol, 84, lives in Cheadle and attended the open day with her daughter, Sally-Ann Davis, who is our activities lead at the home.

Sally-Ann says, “When Mum heard a snowy owl was visiting Barrowhill Hall she couldn’t wait to drive up and see it. She absolutely loves birds of prey and my brother used to keep them. She was really excited, and Hedwig didn’t disappoint.”

In addition to the snowy owl, The Falconry Centre brought in two barn owls and a Harris’ Hawk for everyone to meet. For our nursing residents unable to meet the birds in the home’s large garden they also made a special appearance in residents’ bedrooms.

“We want all our activities to be inclusive,” Sally-Ann says, “and we tailor them for all abilities. The residents couldn’t believe it when an owl came into their room. They certainly weren’t expecting that!

“For many of our residents meeting a snowy owl up close was a new experience. As well as being fun and enjoyable, like with many of our animal visits, you can also see first-hand the calming, soothing effect pet therapy has on our residents.”

Holding the hawk was the highlight for Ian Burton, 59, a resident at Churnet Lodge, the home’s separate household for those living with young onset dementia. He was joined by his family members including his wife, Wendy and their 6-year-old grandson, Charlie.

“The birds made it for Ian, you could see how much he loved holding them,” Wendy says. “It was a great experience.”

“My grandson enjoyed seeing the birds, but meeting Spiderman was his favourite part!”

Alongside the costume character the open day offered a variety of activities throughout the afternoon, including a bouncy castle, live music, and an army truck visit.

For our home, open days like these are not only an important way of keeping our residents connected with the community but they also create enjoyable new experiences for our residents and their loved ones.

Sally-Ann explains; “We always offer a variety of activities here, some are intended to evoke memories and reflection to help our residents feel secure and comforted and others, are about creating new memories. We are always keen for our residents to try new things – like meet a celebrity owl – and we support them to live stimulating and fulfilling lives.

“Our events bring people together. We love to keep our residents connected with the community and create opportunities where our residents and their loved ones can make new memories and enjoy a special day together. It’s always worth it when you see the joy on everyone’s faces!”

Our care home manager, Dania Meadows says, “The best thing about the day was having everyone come together as one big family. Our residents’ loved ones are an extension of our home, and we support them as much as we support the residents.

“The birds were a big hit and they were great with our residents, we were glad the owl, despite its celebrity status wasn’t too high maintenance and we look forward to welcoming all the birds back soon!”




Elvis and the Elves make it a musical Christmas at our festive fair

It was anything but a ‘Blue Christmas’ for our residents when they were treated to a visit by Elvis and his Elves.

Local entertainer, James McGrath, brought the King’s festive magic to Barrowhill Hall for our Christmas fair on Saturday 7th December, allowing residents to reminisce about the hits of bygone days.

He was supported by our suitably dressed activities team.

“Elves have been a theme for us this month,” said Becky Buckley, Activities Manager at the 74 bedroomed dementia care and nursing home.

“We extended ‘Elf Day’ in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society to run for longer so we could raise more money, and elves seemed the perfect accompaniment to Elve-is!”

We welcomed families who came to spend time with their loved ones.  Resident Ian Sutton’s six grandchildren came to see him and enjoy the fun.

Little boy receiving a present from Santa and his elf
Four year old Bobby Scott loved meeting Santa

Santa welcomed children into his grotto to hear their wishes for Christmas.  Four year old Bobby Scott from Uttoxeter was thrilled to meet him and receive a present.

The children also got to meet the ‘Pets as Therapy’ dogs who visit once a month and bring calming contact and quiet affection to those living with dementia and memory loss.

“It was a fantastic afternoon,” said Becky.  “Bobby’s family decided to come along – they don’t have a loved one living here but they’d seen our posters locally.

“They said what a lovely afternoon they had and thought it was a wonderful event for our residents.”

A choir performing with keyboard accompaniament
The Something Else Choir

The Christmas fair also included entertainment from the ‘Something Else’ choir.

There were gift stalls from local businesses including Paula’s Petals from Rocester.  The tombola stall raised £80 towards activities for residents to enjoy.

“We love it when families come in and have fun with us, whether they have a relative here or not” said home manager, Matthew Whitfield.

“My little boy is nearly two and he loves the music and the decorations.

“We couldn’t quite manage three kings this Christmas but the one we did have was all we needed!”