Santa’s reindeer brought festive cheer and memories of Christmases past for residents

A visit from Santa’s reindeer brought festive cheer and memories of Christmases past for residents at Woodland Grove as the home organised the visit as part of its ‘Elf Day’ in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society on 3rd December.

Two reindeer – Dancer and Blitzen – visited the home for the afternoon, and residents and their families had the opportunity to stroke them and find out about how they are cared for by their owners.

For Pat Huntley, it was a wonderful opportunity to reminisce. “I found them mesmerising,” she said. “My family joined me and really enjoyed the experience of seeing them. I used to live backing on to Richmond Park and loved to watch the deer so this brought back some lovely memories of the times spent with friends in the past.

“It was one of those moments that you forgot about everything that is going on in the world and really focused on these lovely animals and how festive it made us all feel.  Thank you to the staff for making this experience happen.”

Staff also dressed as elves for the day and the fun raised £30 pounds for the dementia charity. “We had a fantastic day and having the reindeers here really got us into the Christmas spirit,” said the home’s registered manager, Hazel McGwyne. “The residents were surprised how large they were and how thick and soft their coats were.

“It was the first time some of our residents had seen real reindeers! While there’s a great therapeutic benefit to reminiscence and recalling happy memories from the past, there are still so many things people living here want to explore.  We love being able to bring them new experiences.”

The Scandinavian reindeer were brought to Woodland Grove by Essex-based company J&C’s Popsys Reindeers.

The Elf Day also follows the home having completed its entry in the St John’s Tree Festival. Residents enjoyed visiting the church on St John’s Road in Epping to decorate their tree with the theme ‘memories’, hand-painting ornaments with their recollections of Christmas.

“It’s been lovely getting out into the community, ” said Woodland Grove’s Client Relations Manager, Fiona Heneghan. “And making new memories as well as celebrating old ones.”

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