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Who was Josephine Sara?

Josephine Sara (Josie) was born in Manchester in 1928. She grew up in a close knit Catholic family until she married Peter Sara when she was 23 and started a family of her own.

Home and family were the bedrock to her happiness and there was nothing she cherished more than family time. She was a natural homemaker, excelling in all aspects of domestic life and creating a homely and pristine home, abundant in good cooking and warmth.

She valued her role as wife, mother and grandmother above all things but her mothering wasn’t just confined to her children; she opened her home to several young people whom she mothered contentedly for short periods or long – one of our trustees, Sally Whelan, stayed with Josie for 2 years of school during term time and considered her a second mother ever after.

In her early 80’s Josie started to show signs of dementia and although she had anticipated it for years (her mother died of early onset Alzheimer’s) she refused to acknowledge it, fought it and battled with its demons until the final few months. And then, although she couldn’t always put a name to a family member she knew they were safe people, knew at some level that they were her family and that was Home.

 

Background to the Josie Home idea, Antonia Sara-Kelly, Chair

In 2015 my mother, Josephine, died of dementia after suffering for over 6 years with its symptoms. She was cared for by my father at first, then by live-in carers and finally, after a considerable search for an appropriate home (many couldn’t accommodate dementia patients) we found a care home.

Our experience was similar to many families’: the care was good but a little institutional and regimented with emphasis on controlling the residents who were ideally sitting on chairs in one room, all eating the same food at the same time and bed time was to suit the shift changeover rather than the usual habits of the resident. On one afternoon visit I found my mother sitting in front of a plate of food at the table with everyone else but unable to lift her head or wake up as she had been so heavily sedated the night before because she was restless. But she had still been wheeled out to sit in front of a congealing plate of food.

Where the carer’s way of speaking was different from my mother’s she found them hard to understand in an already alien environment. This emphasised her detachment from the lifestyle she was familiar with. She tended to hark back to her childhood and dwelt there a lot of the time. Her surroundings deepened her sense of distance from this time.

My father died a year later and in the sadness of the loss of my parents and the knowledge that their final years were unhappy an idea literally popped into my head fully formed. I had read about Hogewey dementia village some years earlier and wondered if it would be possible to build such a village as a sustainable development and using a charity as the provider. My fellow trustees helped me develop the concept and apply for charitable status which we achieved in May 2018.

Creating a home for people who suffered like my mother seems a suitable legacy for her and if a few people with dementia can have a gentler, more familiar end to their lives than she did I think she would be happy to lend her name.

It is a steep and enjoyable learning curve and we appreciate all the positive response we have had so far from our local MP, Margaret Greenwood, The Wirral Chamber of Commerce, Community Action Wirral and especially our friends and family.

 

The Trustees

Chair Antonia Sara-Kelly

Antonia’s early career was as a solicitor in Liverpool until, having four children in 6 years, she became a full time mother. As the children became more independent she went back to law part time, did freelance copy editing and proofreading as well as invigilating at a local school. In her spare time she enjoys walking her dog, writing and gardening. She loathes thinking what to cook every night.

Treasurer Margaret Scott

After graduating from Liverpool University, Margaret started her working life with Price Waterhouse in Liverpool and upon qualification as a Chartered Accountant developed her career with the Audit Commission and Deloitte in Manchester. In her various roles she became a specialist in corporate governance especially in the public sector and the NHS.

Having two daughters she started work for her husband and his partners in a training and Consultancy Practice where she continues to work, along with being involved in the professional accountancy examination process at ACCA. She has been a treasurer in the past to the Wirral Chinese Association and Wirral Junior Orchestra.

In her spare time she loves to play badminton (albeit rather badly!)

Secretary Sally Whelan

Sally describes Josie as her “second mother”.  When Sally was 10 years old, Josie opened her heart and her home to provide a warm and nurturing environment for Sally during school term time while her parents worked overseas.  Josie’s love, and her values, had a profound influence on Sally’s formative years and helped to shape her philosophy on life. In Josie’s memory, Sally wants to help to provide a similarly warm and nurturing environment for those living with dementia.

Working as a healthcare analyst, Sally has third-hand insight of the practical and emotional challenges of living with dementia. She has a personal passion for sustainable living, and is excited to see how the Josephine Sara Foundation can provide a thoughtful and caring combination of these two elements in its mission to be kind to people and the environment.

When she is not taking care of her own young family, Sally loves singing, whether in a choir, in a band or in the shower!

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