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Pensioner speaks of loneliness ahead of Silver Sunday events

Chelsea Ballet will perform in Westminster’s care and nursing homes

05 October, 2018 — By Tom Foot

Rosemary at home

ROSEMARY Hatlane felt a deep sense of isolation after her husband died.

The 86-year-old, who lives in Pimlico, worked for the NHS for 25 years until she retired in 2002.

Rosemary said that, for her, living alone felt like she was “under house arrest”.

“My granddaughter is looking after me,” she added. “She is the only person who knows what I need. I worked in the Royal Marsden for people who were dying. I had just lost my husband, and I could speak to women who had lost their husbands.

“If you live alone, you are under house arrest – your friends are just the four walls. Maybe you can hear people talk outside when they pass. This is what happens to us. People think it is a very light thing because you don’t feel the pain. But you feel the pain inside.”

Last year, Rosemary took part in the annual Silver Sunday dance for the first time.

It was set up in 2012 with the aim of getting elderly people out of their homes, encouraging them to meet up with others and socialise.

“I thought patchwork was my life and that was it,” said Rosemary. “But there was another type of life I could take. [Silver Sunday is] the best present for old people because lots of us were there and we did away with loneliness.”

This year a series of events are taking place across the borough and an estimated 1,500 Westminster residents will take part in more than 40 Silver Sunday events. Aside from film screenings, free entry to theatres and tea dances, some more interesting events include the Chelsea Ballet performing for residents of Westminster’s care and nursing homes today (Friday) to launch this year’s programme of free events.

Residents of Glastonbury House, Garside House, Norton House, Penfold Court, Carlton Dene Residential Care Home, Westmead Residential Care Home, Forrester Court and Athlone House will be treated to highlights of their repertoire including Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, and Saint-Saëns’s The Dying Swan.

Louise Hudson, director of Chelsea Ballet, said: “We are honoured to dance at the Silver Sunday event in Westminster, and to take the experience of a performance to those not in a position to attend the theatre.”

The dancers will be accompanied on their visits by Lord Mayor of Westminster Councillor Lindsey Hall, cabinet member for family services and public health Cllr Heather Acton, and Cllr Christabel Flight, Older People’s Champion and founder of Silver Sunday.

Cllr Flight said: “We believe that by highlighting and combating the issue of social isolation with great vigour on one day a year, we will all be inspired to do more to celebrate and connect with older people the rest of the year as well. We have it in our power to change the story on loneliness and ensure the elderly live more fulfilling and healthier lives.”

Other events include a guided walk celebrating 100 years of the RAF, an afternoon tea at the Ritz, tai chi classes, a graffiti workshop and walking football.

Around 1,000 activities will take place across the country to give older residents an opportunity to meet new people in their communities.

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