On Friday 3rd June 2022, the residents, staff and guests of Devonshire Court, an RMBI care home to the south of Leicester, were delighted to welcome the Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, Peter Kinder, and members of the Provincial Grand Lodge to witness the ceremonial planting of a tree to commemorate HM The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee
Accompanied by the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Geoff Searson and David Highton the Provincial Grand Almoner, the Provincial Grand Master took great delight in laying the final spade of soil under a crimson Acer 'Norway Maple' tree. Juliet O’Connor, Devonshire Court Home Manager, thanked the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons for their continued support and for the Provincial Grand Master for his continued support and for coming to plant the tree personally.
After the official ceremonial planting, the residents, staff, and guests were all invited to an informal gathering where tea and cakes were served to all volunteers and staff. Fee Collins, Activity Co-ordinator, who organised the Platinum Jubilee event was responsible for organising the day as well as the ongoing daily activities and events to engage and entertain the residents. Still following strict COVID-19 guidance, everyone respectfully wore a facemask after having their temperature taken, indicative of the outstanding care that the staff give to the residents to maintain their health and well-being.
Juliet O’Connor spoke about how important it was that the province marked the Platinum Jubilee alongside the masonic community with the presence of the Provincial Grand Master. She mentioned that the recent two and half years had been very tough for the staff and residents of the home. Having had COVID-19 herself, which involved time in intensive care, Juliet spoke of how proud she is of the team at Devonshire Court who showed great commitment being onsite day in and day out. She further noted that it had been a 'scary' time for all but working together – staff and residents as one team – they have been able to move forward together and become stronger for it. The residents knew with confidence that their staff would be there for them every day. Juliet has supported her team admirably over the past couple of years and understands the importance of such an event to lift the spirits of residents and staff.
Speaking after the ceremony, Peter Kinder spoke about how honoured he was to be asked to perform the tree planting on behalf of the Freemasons. Mentioning how important Devonshire Court is, he reflected on the connection Devonshire Court has with royalty, from its opening in 1966 by HM Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother through to now celebrating the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. He was proud to be present along with so many other Freemasons who attended the event, continuing the link Freemasons have with the care home in the heart of the country. He commended the effort and work that the staff have devoted to the home over the past few years, with residents commenting on the high quality of care they receive and how staff make Devonshire Court feel like a ‘home from home’.
The home has been the beneficiary of donations from the Masonic Charitable Foundation as well as a number of kind donations from members who are no longer with us. A wonderful example of the donations has been the work put into the decoration and homely feel of the care home. From the 'Fred Lifford Lounge' and corridors, a rejuvenated restaurant called The Restaurant on The Square, beautifully set out every mealtime to an onsite hairdresser and nail bar. During the most challenging of COVID times, the talented team were able to offer much-needed haircuts to the residents giving residents dignity as well as a “touch of glam” when visiting hairdressers were not permitted in the care home. Such a variety of real-life experiences helps the residents enjoy their days, offers opportunities to connect with other residents and gives valuable structure to their days. There is even a cinema with a popcorn machine and even a bar for those regular 'social' get-togethers!
It is clear that the financial support given to the home has been used to enhance and enrich the experience for the residents through person-centred care. Residents are asked about what bespoke trips and experiences they would like to do such as trips to the zoo, places of local and national interest, as well as celebrating a friendship that has lasted 55 years. It is clear that staff have strong and positive relationships with all residents, they understand their personal interests, needs and care. Bethan Thomas, the Resource Planner for the home, talked about the impact that the Freemasons in the province have on the home and the residents themselves. Along with Juliet leading the team, her hard work and commitment are evident in ensuring staff are available, rooms are fully equipped, and appropriate resources are purchased. The enthusiasm of the staff to make Devonshire Court an outstanding care home, shines through with warmth and pride, mirroring the ongoing charitable support and commitment of the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons.