Many years ago, I worked at Garreglwyd.
Before my time as an employee, it was just Garreglwyd Home, the place where Nain said she’d end up and I’d better come and visit her.
My Nain did end up there and the fact that I worked there was great.
As my Nain approached her 90’s she began to lose some of her faculties. It was so distressing to see her while this horrible transition was occurring. She had been such a stoic and strong woman, so wonderfully “Holyhead Mam” and really, the nucleus of the family. We used to visit her in Treaddur Square after school, during lunch, before going out, sleep over, drink strong a
and eat bechdan jams. – We loved her so much.
Nain was eventually assigned to a nursing home somewhere in “the country” because there was no room for her locally. She was so unhappy, so lonely. Nain knew no one and even though we visited as much as we could, it didn’t help her or us.
Then one day we got the message that Nain had a place at Garreglwyd. Brilliant! She arrived a quiet, withdrawn old lady with no concept of life around her. Such a heart wrenching experience, to see our wonderful Nain so defeated. A week later, well Blydi Nora, her beautiful white hair was set and glistening like a gorgeous curly halo. She had on a dress she hadn’t worn in yonks, her nails were lacquered and ..when we walked in, her eyes lit up. Dammittal, she recognised us and was made-up to see us. We had a great chat, “Violet Butler works here, she’s your Auntie you know.. and Betty Parry and Beryl and Mona....I knew their Mams” and so it went.
My Mam went to visit and bumped into a resident who was an old neighbour from her childhood, she was thrilled and “Cath” even more so because Mam started to visit her too. She had no family left and so looked forward to the unexpected visits. My Nain was playing cards, getting her hair done, blackguarding all her old nemeses and having the best time. Because she was happy, her family were also less stressed and life became better. Garreglwyd connects people.
When I got to work there, I met lots of old characters, Bob Hosking, (The origin of my nickname came from Bob “yr hen blydi Shareen ‘na”) Georgie Bach, Maggie “Crogan”, Annie Huyten, Ronnie, Gwilym, John L..the list is endless. What all these people had in common, except for the residency at Garreglwyd and being funny, interesting people, was that they had no family left. Their family was each other and the staff at Garreglwyd. The men helped with dishes, doing the gardens, all sorts. They sat together watching telly and playing dominos of an evening.
They had company and it was home.
What I’m attempting to show here, is that only is Garreglwyd necessary for elderly people who still have families, it’s essential for those who don’t. It gives people who are written off by society a place to live again, to enjoy what’s left of their lives and to end their lives in a place where they have spent happy years. A place where someone is holding their hands, while they pass onto whatever follows.
The Great girls who work there don’t consider it a job, it’s a vocation. It’s something you do because you grow to love these old people. The elderly living there don’t just love you back, they depend on you.
After the indescribable agony of taking her into the country and quashing her spirit in another care-home, for the few short months we had left with her Garreglwyd gave us our Nain back.
Garreglwyd gives elderly people hope.
Garreglwyd provides not only jobs, it provides purpose.
Apart from being a fantastic care home, with a wonderful reputation. Garreglwyd is a strong root in Holyhead’s society.
Rona, the Matron was a care assistant when I worked there, 25 years ago – doesn’t that prove how much Garreglwyd means to people and how its staff does more than just “care”?
Don’t take it away.