Today’s Christmas Q&A brings us Ron, a trustee of 15 years at Johnson House. Before joining the house as a volunteer Ron worked in the nuclear industry as an electrical engineer for 40 years. Retirement has kept him busy not only giving his time as a trustee but keeping up with his seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren!

We caught up with Ron to ask him what it’s like at Johnson House at Christmas.

What is the atmosphere at Johnson House like around Christmas?

In the past we have had some fabulous Christmases. The house is all ‘dressed up’ with Christmas decorations inside and out and we organise numerous activities. Christmas is taken in our stride as everyone pitches in to lend a hand and bring joyous festivities to the residents and staff. It’s a time for everyone to share their memories of past Christmases and to enjoy new traditions of their fellow residents.

Do you usually see family or bring family to the home at Christmas to spend with the residents?

Apart from this year, for obvious reasons, we always invite friends and family to join in with the Christmas activities taking place at the house. We always have a great turn out for our carol service and party night.

Last year I had family visiting from Australia who joined in on all the fun – bit different for them to have a cold Christmas!

How will this Christmas be different for you, the team and the residents?

This year has of course been challenging for everyone, but especially older people. Whilst we will try to bring as much Christmas joy to the house as possible, we are all aware it won’t be quite the same as previous Christmases.

We will put up all of our usual decorations and enjoy festive food – and do our level best to keep everyone safe and happy.

One thing we are really looking forward to is providing virtual Christmas celebrations between our residents and their families. Additionally a DVD is being made by Hospice at Home, which we can show on our big screen, of a service which will be recorded in St Michaels Church in Workington. It will include readings from hospice staff and volunteers, choir performances from Seaton Junior School Choir, Victoria Junior School Choir, The Castlegate Singers and Phoenix Singers, with recordings also included from Whitehaven Male Voice Choir. There will be moments of reflection and the switching on of the hospice Christmas tree lights to mark the dedications made in memory of loved ones. 

You can bet Father Christmas will turn up with a present for all our residents.

Do you run any special activities at this time of year? If so, what do you do?

In the past we have started Christmas with a Nine Lesson carol service led by the local Minister with readings by representatives from Management, staff friends and residents, attended by a team of hand-bell ringers, which occurs about mid-December. This is followed up by local school children visiting us to entertain our residents in various ways. Then all the residents are taken by coach to a local hotel for a Christmas lunch with live entertainment. Our ’in-house’ Christmas party with live entertainment, is always looked forwarded to. You can bet Father Christmas will turn up with a present for all our residents.

What’s your favourite Abbeyfield Christmas memory?

At one of our parties we had a Magician/Comedian. He was absolutely amazing and hilarious. We have never experienced so much laughter before or since.

What’s the best Christmas gift you’ve ever been given?

My first child born on the 23rd December 1962.

Name three words that best describe Christmas for you.  

Family being together.

Finish this thought, “The true meaning of Christmas is…

…to think only of others.