Care Story: John and Penny

John Hardy was born and raised in Plymouth on the south coast where he spent his early childhood days with his mother and grandparents, whilst his father was stationed away in Scotland with the Royal Air Force.

John loved living by the sea and would go down to the port to sit and watch ships and chat with the fishermen. This is where his love for boats began. Sadly John’s childhood was not without turbulence. John was just a young boy during WW2 but he still recalls clear memories of Plymouth being heavily bombed. One particular day John remembers the sound of the air raid sirens. Johns mother had rushed to his school to collect him and they fled home instead of sheltering in a nearby bunker in the park, as they had done so many times in the past. This was the best decision Johns mother made as sadly that same day the bunker in the park where they would have taken shelter was bombed, killing everyone inside.

As the years went by and John grew up, he dreamed of becoming a navigator. His passion for boats led him to join a navy training programme aboard HMS Conwy. As part of his training, John had to undergo an eyesight test that unfortunately he failed, thus prematurely ending his navel career. John soon found another opportunity with the Cunard Shipping Line working as a bursar managing finances and entertainment. This paved the way for John to progress into working on the famous superliners the Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mary.

It was aboard the Queen Mary that John met his wife Sue. For their first date, John took Sue on a romantic boat trip around New York. This was the start of many exciting travels that took them to many exotic destinations, with their favourite being Coki Point on St Thomas in the Virgin Islands.

After getting married, John and Sue decided to move back to mainland UK and set up home in North Wales. John once again began his career in a nearby naval training base.

Many years later John received an exciting job offer through a friend in Cumbria. John was to become a skipper on Lake Windermere and the couple made their move up to Cumbria to start the next chapter of their lives. John and Sue lived happily in Newby Bridge for many years where they finally retired. It was during Johns retirement that he began to help his friend and neighbour Arthur Bailey to build the famous Millerbeck Light Railway and once completed, he continued his involvement by driving the engines.

Several years later John’s wife Sue sadly passed away. John’s health began to deteriorate after a fall which left him hospitalised. John also developed Dementia but despite this John was determined to remain independent in his own home. He recognised that he would need a little help to do so and without any family close-by to call upon he contacted Heydays to discuss what support they could provide.

Penny Newell had joined Heydays Care and Support Services team in Grange-over-Sands in May 2018 and became John’s primary carer. It soon became clear to Penny how lonely John was and how much he missed his late wife. His declining health and confidence also made it difficult for him to leave the house and socialise.

It wasn’t long before John began to open up to Penny about his life and experiences. Penny loved listening to Johns stories and soon a friendship began to blossom. Penny began to take her daughters to visit John who looked forward to spending time with them all.

Last October, John and Penny entered the Heydays pumpkin carving competition as a team. Their pumpkin design was of course, a ship and they were thrilled when their design was announced as the winner. First prize was afternoon tea at a local venue of their choice.

John and Penny decided they’d like to go to The Lakeside Hotel. Situated on the east side of Windermere by the cruise landing, it offered a great view from the conservatory across the lake and of the boats coming and going. They took Penny’s 3 year old daughter Sky along with them and all enjoyed a fantastic afternoon tea.

Having Penny in his life has enabled John to enjoy trips out and has given him a truly valued friendship. Their friendship and trust in one another has grown over time, helped by Penny being John’s dedicated carer. John enjoys Penny’s company and loves to see her daughters when she brings them along to visit him.

For Penny, being able to make a difference to people’s lives is why she chose to become a carer. Penny feels it is not just her profession but her vocation. Penny knows that visiting John, spending time with him, chatting and making meals for him, all contributes a huge amount to his life.

So special is their friendship that on Christmas Day, Penny cooked John his Christmas lunch and took it round to his home with her children. John and Penny shared a glass of sherry whilst the girls played with the Christmas decorations.  Having Penny and her children with him on Christmas Day meant the world to John, who would have otherwise been alone and for Penny knowing how much he appreciated their visit was her reward.