Studious pensioners are top of the class

Summerhill Care Home manager Bev Hope and activities co-ordinator Claire Smith with residents Gerry Sayer, Doris Landreth, Wilfred Sewell, Thomas Ashcroft, George Dagg, Harry Garrick, Eric Lumb, Henry Curry and Ceceline Wilson who proudly show their certificates. Picture by Jane Coltman
Summerhill Care Home manager Bev Hope and activities co-ordinator Claire Smith with residents Gerry Sayer, Doris Landreth, Wilfred Sewell, Thomas Ashcroft, George Dagg, Harry Garrick, Eric Lumb, Henry Curry and Ceceline Wilson who proudly show their certificates. Picture by Jane Coltman
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Completing their homework and carrying out research – they might not be your usual type of students, but dedicated OAPs have proved they are top of the class.

Proudly holding their certificates of achievement, the group of residents at Alnwick’s Summerhill Care Home have successfully completed a 12-week educational course.

Copying a college curriculum, the elderly folk – in their 80s and 90s, with the eldest pupil being 99 – undertook historical debates, studying Northumbrian social history between 1840 and 1940 and learning more about the county’s iconic castles.

During this time, they used books from Alnwick’s Barter Books to do research and even had to complete homework.

The course was introduced at the home by activities coordinator Claire Smith.

She said that the initiative had proved successful and was a way of keeping the residents stimulated.

She said: “It has been really good. We followed a proper curriculum and the residents really enjoyed it. I can honestly say that their efforts have been really inspiring.

“They said that I was quite a strict teacher and they had to get up extra early to do their homework!

“I have been given the most amazing opportunity to devise all sorts of activities at the home and I will continue to run these types of educational classes because the residents want me to carry them on.

“The next one will be about London’s social history from 1810 to 1910, looking at things such as the food that people ate and the way that people lived.”

Care-home manager Bev Hope echoed Claire’s sentiments, hailing the positive impact that the historical-debating sessions have had on the residents.

She said: “I am proud of each and every one of them – I feel like a proud mum.

“It has helped with their mental stimulation and their confidence. And at times, they had some good historical debates – Question Time wouldn’t have had a look-in!”

The residents were delighted to receive their certificates and on Monday they toasted a job well done with a glass of bubbly.

Reflecting on the course, Gerald Sayer, 94, said: “It is marvellous to receive a certificate. It has been very interesting, especially learning all about the castles. I learnt a lot, including facts about Harry Hotspur.”

Eric Wilton Lumb, 91, added: “I really enjoyed it. I liked learning about Bamburgh Castle and the area’s social history.”

Playing an active role at the home, Claire keeps the residents busy with a range of activities, from tai chi to jewellery making.