It’s clear Richard has quite a mission on his hands – cycling 100 hills, in a record-breaking 12 days to raise £50,000 for Dementia UK – but it’s all for a very special cause, his loyal mum Peggy who is living with dementia in Sanctuary Care’s Redhill Court Residential Care Home.
Reflecting on his close relationship with his mum, Richard shares his thoughts about the determined lady who he is proud to call mum, in a nutshell…
Richard said: “My earliest memories of mum are sitting on her lap for Listen with Mother on the valve wireless and coming home from infant school for lunches before I started to take school dinners.”
It all began in 1923
Peggy was born a twin but her sibling sadly passed away at birth. She was born on Sunday 23rd September 1923 in Liverpool and she grew up at 65 Wordsworth Street, near Sefton Park. Growing up in the area, Peggy attended Sefton Park County School and stayed on an extra year until she was 15, when she took a job in an office – learning to type, before moving to Oathwaite and Litherland Auctioneers and Valuers in Liverpool and joining the ATS (the women’s branch of the British Army) for war service at the age of 19.
While in Liverpool, Peggy met her late husband George who was on leave from 489 RAF Coastal Command Squadron. The pair went onto marry in Hounslow in 1946 and lived in digs and a Nissen Hut before moving into a new council house in Yateley, North East Hampshire where they settled down to have their own family.
The pair went onto have the ‘perfect 2.4 family’ with daughter Ann and son Richard, Peggy stayed at home to look after the children until Richard started school, when she took a part-time job in Tice’s bakers shop to ease her way back into work.
Richard remembers: “I can still smell the fresh bread from the ovens and I can remember the wooden serving counter with old Miss Tice serving with grey Dutch plaits in her hair.”
From there, Peggy took a full-time job in the accounts department at Harvey’s of Camberley, which was the swish new department store at the time.
The money lady
When working full-time, before and after having children, Peggy had a 30-year career in finance. It started when she managed the weekly wages for 631 Mixed Heavy Ack Ack Battery during the Second World War, finishing as a Credit Controller at Amey Roadstone Corporation in Shrewsbury.
Juggling work and family commitments, Peggy always prioritised her family, Richard remembered: “Mum always gave me unconditional love – she was never overly critical, she let me go when I needed to go and always welcomed me back when I needed support. She was fiercely loyal.”
Hard family times
Sadly George lost his life to cancer in 1969, leaving Peggy widowed to raise Richard and Ann. Richard shared: “Dad dying left the deepest loss and sorrow that will never go away for all of us – mum kept us all together emotionally and that is something I will always remember.”
Richard has excelled in sports all his life, from running to cycling and his athletic stride, unsurprisingly, doesn’t fall far from the tree. His father George was always known as the better sportsman, having cycled, played football and cricket – all at a good level. Peggy was also in good shape herself – she too enjoyed running and swimming.
Richard said: “Dad was more the sportsman but mum was definitely more determined. I have inherited this from her. If she could understand what I’m doing for Dementia UK, she would cheer me on every step of the way.”
Life now in Redhill Court
Since February this year, Peggy has lived at Redhill Court Residential Care Home, which offers residential and dementia care, in Kings Norton, Birmingham.
Reflecting on making the tough decision to place Peggy into a care home, he said: “It was a hard decision but ultimately the right one. The pressure of knowing it was me who had to make the final decision was incredibly tough but by that stage I was battling between agonising over her increasing inability to go through and cope with her life routines and knowing she wouldn’t fully understand nor remember the reasons for her move – it was heart-breaking.
“Mum is really settled at Redhill Court and we still share a lot of good times there – throughout her time within the home and when it has been necessary to ring the changes I’ve been able to lean on mum to accept them because of our close relationship.”