Navy fitness fanatics thrills elderly residents in Fareham

Physical training instructors from HMS Sultan and HMS Collingwood at Gracewell care home in Fareham
Physical training instructors from HMS Sultan and HMS Collingwood at Gracewell care home in Fareham
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PHYSICAL training instructors from the Royal Navy helped spread some Christmas cheer to elderly residents at a care home.

The team of fitness fanatics from HMS Collingwood, in Fareham, and HMS Sultan, in Gosport, joined forces to entertain about 50 people at Gracewell of Fareham.

Petty Officer Ayeshea Lockton and Brenda Vickery, who was formerly in the WRNS

Petty Officer Ayeshea Lockton and Brenda Vickery, who was formerly in the WRNS

A total of 11 sailors performed a traditional naval hornpipe service to the residents, before leading them in singing carols and then helping to cook lunch at the home, in Redlands Lane.

They handed out mince pies and biscuits to guests, while Leading PTI Chris Reeves, of HMS Sultan, dressed as Father Christmas to hand out presents.

Petty Officer PTI Steve Lockton, of HMS Sultan, said: ‘It’s great that we could come together to do this.

‘We wanted to give something back to the community and this has been great fun.’

The idea was the brainchild of retired Chief Petty Officer Dave Pepper – himself an ex-physical training instructor – and Zoe Kelly, activities co-ordinator at the home.

Dave visits a number of care homes across the area at this time of year in a bid to brighten up the festive period for elderly residents.

Among those enjoying yesterday’s fun in Fareham was 101-year-old Brenda Vickery, who served in the Women’s Royal Naval Service in the Second World War.

She had the chance to meet Petty Officer Ayeshea Lockton, of HMS Collingwood, and relive her own naval service.

Gracewell of Fareham’s home admissions advisor Kate Heggarty said the day had been an important moment for many of the home’s veterans.

She said: ‘This means so much to them, it really does.

‘The residents haven’t stopped talking about it all day. It changes their day and gives them something to look forward to. But it also helps create lovely new memories.’

Resident Marianne Davis was led on to the dance floor by Leading PTI Dan Appleby, of HMS Collingwood.

She said: ‘This is wonderful – it’s livened up our day.’

Friends Audrey Russell, 92, and Jean Sparks, 81, said the day was something they will never forget. Speaking of the sailors, Jean – who has been with Gracewell for just over a year – added: ‘I thought they were great. I wish I’d seen it before.’

Yesterday was the first time the team of physical trainers had visited the home.

But, it is a link that Kate hopes will flourish, adding that she hopes to have another visit from the sailors in the summer.