“We’ve enjoyed doing what we can to help, although it’s only now, looking back, that I feel a sense of pride. At the time, you just get on with it and do what you need to do” – supporters Roger and Ann celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary with friends from EACH

A couple that have spent more than three decades tirelessly supporting their local children’s hospice were treated to a special diamond wedding anniversary party.

Roger and Ann Kerrison celebrated with family, friends and fellow residents at Brooklyn House Nursing Home, in Attleborough.

They were joined by staff from East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH), having been among the initial group to help set up and open the organisation’s former Quidenham base, in September 1991.

They went on to volunteer countless hours of their time, becoming known as “the grandparents” because of the affection they showed to children receiving care.

Roger, 89, and Ann, 82, celebrated their anniversary on Thursday (4th April) and have been residents at Brooklyn House Nursing Home since August.

Former nurse Ann said: “I can’t believe it’s been 60 years.

“Not many couples are that fortunate and we’ve always looked out for each other, talked and laughed a lot, which is so important.

“Roger has a very cheeky sense of humour and even now, after all these years, I’m not sure if he’s being serious or pulling my leg. He still catches me out!

“We’ve never had a proper argument and always been strong for each other.”

Roger and Ann have been supporting EACH since Quidenham opened, having retired from leading roles at St Mary’s Residential and Nursing Home, in New Buckenham, in 1979.

As a trained nurse, Ann helped interview members of the first care team.

“We knew the people who came together to set up the hospice and were glad to volunteer,” said Ann.

“It was all hands to the pump and, as the years passed, and the hospice grew, we continued to give our time.

“We both helped where we could, supporting the staff and playing with the children.

“Everyone called us ‘the grandparents’ and I think they liked having us there, making the hospice feel more homely.

“During my nursing career, a child with a life-threatening condition would be put in a back bedroom and only see doctors and nurses.

“Thankfully, things have changed so much, thanks to organisations like EACH.

“Nowadays, children don’t have to miss out on things and they have opportunities for fun and to create memories.

“They get as much as they can from their short lives and it’s amazing.”

Ann helped with administration tasks in the early days and subsequently organised countless coffee mornings and collections across the region.

Roger assisted with the books and could often be seen manning the car park.

Between them, they have given up many more hours volunteering in the organisation’s offices and at fundraising events.

“It’s important to give something back and that feeling never leaves you,” said Ann.

“The children have always mattered to us and we’ve enjoyed doing what we can to help, although it’s only now, looking back, that I feel a sense of pride.

“At the time, you just get on with it and do what you need to do.

“We’ve always loved our connection and got a lot from it.

“It’s been a real privilege and I’d still be involved today if I could. It’s only my lack of mobility that stops me.”

In recognition of their vast contribution, the couple met The Princess of Wales at the launch of The Nook Appeal, at The Norfolk Showground, in 2014.

They then met EACH’s Royal Patron again when she opened The Nook in November 2019.

The previous month, they had been invited to cut the ribbon at the charity’s Attleborough shop and Roger, once a keen sportsman who played cricket, bowls and table tennis, as well as being a football referee, is equally proud of his long association with EACH.

“I’ll always remember seeing a young girl, probably about six years of age, on a swing at Quidenham,” said the former costs accountant at Jarrold’s old printworks, in Norwich.

“As I approached her, she gave me a big smile and squirted me with a water pistol.

“I’ll never forget her laugh and her father said he’d never heard her react like that.

“It was such a lovely moment that will stay with me forever.

“The little girl wanted me to fill up the pistol – probably so she could squirt me again – and for a few moments she was able to forget her problems. That’s the magic of EACH.”

Although unable to volunteer anymore, the couple still keep in touch with old friends from the organisation and say they “didn’t need to think twice” about deciding to leave a gift in their Will to EACH.

“We’ve visited all the hospices and it’s lovely to see how they’ve grown and developed,” said Roger.

“That’s why it was such a pleasure for us to be invited to the opening of The Nook, which is beautiful and a very special place for families to be together.

“It’s all come about because local people keep giving their support, just as it’s been our privilege to do for so many years.

“We made some very good friends, met fantastic people and have so many memories.”

Roger and Ann moved to Brooklyn Care Home after 12 years living in nearby Hargham Road.

Ann is a ‘Resident Ambassador’, which means she spends time with other residents who do not receive any or many visitors.

“The home is fantastic,” she said.

“The staff are kind and the only problem is that there’s too much good food!

“We feel very fortunate to be somewhere we’re so well looked after, safe and protected. We’re very happy here.”

Find our notes to editors here.

Keep in touch:

For further information about this release please contact:

Matt Plummer | Media and PR Manager | 07738 328058 | Matt.Plummer@each.org.uk

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