Battling through snow

Age UK carers Karen Rouke and Louise Swan with client Charlie Drummond.
Age UK carers Karen Rouke and Louise Swan with client Charlie Drummond.

Two dedicated carers, Karen Rourke and Louise Swan, from north Northumberland did more than their fair share during the recent snow and ice to ensure that vulnerable elderly patients got the treatment and support they needed. For the full story on the two women, who took on the work of five people, turn to Page 50. They are pictured with client Charlie Drummond, from Seahouses. For others though, the snow provided opportunities for fun, including building snowmen, snow caterpillars and even skiing in the Cheviots.

Two north Northumberland women have been hailed heroes by a national charity after battling horrendous weather conditions last week to ensure that 20 vulnerable elderly people received their daily homecare service.

Karen Rourke and Louise Swan both work as homecare assistants for Age UK Northumberland and from last Saturday to Tuesday, the pair, who both live in Seahouses, had to cover the work of five stranded at home by the weather.

The dedicated duo travelled together to visit the homes of the elderly over a 15-square-mile area covering Seahouses, Bamburgh and Beadnell.

And between them they managed to ensure that each home had at least one daily visit, with the most vulnerable receiving up to three calls from them a day over the worst of the winter weather.

Many needed time critical medications, as well having food provided, the heating or fires switching on and off, and assistance to get washed and dressed.

Jack Shiel, a 95-year-old who lives in Seahouses, said: “I live alone and expected to not get a visit when I saw the weather.

“However, I looked out of the window and there were two ladies arriving. They said it was no bother, but I wonder how they managed it.

“I am delighted they turned up, and wouldn’t ever hear a word said against this service or the people that work there.”

Yvonne Gregory, who lives in Alnwick, also spoke highly of Karen and Louise.

Her mother-in-law Margaret Gregory lives in Seahouses, and wishes to remain independent.

Without the support of Karen and Louise, Margaret would have been alone as Yvonne’s car was stranded in the snow.

She said: “These two ladies would have walked to Margaret’s in the worst weather to make she was ok so I knew when it hit and I couldn’t get my car out, that I didn’t have to panic and that Margaret would be well looked after.

“Karen gives the most exceptional care and Age UK Northumberland is a fabulous charity.”

Katherine Shearer, acting CEO of Age UK Northumberland, paid tribute to the two carers and the entire team who ensured the show went on despite the snow.

“Karen and Louise were outstanding in their dedication to our vulnerable elderly people,” she said.

“Despite the conditions they ventured out when many others couldn’t. The fact that this has been recognised by the families and the clients is wonderful.

“Many other members of our 300-plus team did an exceptional job too, including those carers that walked to the most cut-off points to ensure the service was delivered.

“I would like to thank each and every member of the whole team for the hard work and commitment during these difficult weather conditions.”

Age UK Northumberland is a registered charity that aims to improve the life of the over 50s in the county by delivering a range of services and products.

More information is available at