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Bill Gets Back on his Bike

An 88-year-old motorcycle enthusiast, Bill Wall, is back in the saddle for the first time in over 10 years after a surprise visit to his home at the state-of-the-art Belong care village in Chester as part of a celebration of intergenerational connections.

Colleagues at the Nursery in Belong, the first fully integrated research nursery within a care setting, which is located at Belong Chester and operated by national charity Ready Generations, arranged for an ‘Indian’ make motorcycle to be brought in to the village as part of a surprise party for Bill.

The nursery team submitted an application to the National Association of Activity Providers (NAPA) ‘Living the Dream Fund’, part of its ‘Grow Old Disgracefully’ campaign, set up to help older individuals to engage in activities that challenge ageist stereotypes, to support the event.

Ready Generations co-founder Sue Egersdorff explains the idea behind it: “We wanted to do something for Bill to show how much we appreciate him, as well as celebrate the benefits of intergenerational connections for both older people and young children. Bill and the children have had a huge impact on each other’s lives since the nursery opened. The sense of purpose provided by the nursery helped Bill to settle into his new home, and parents report significant advances in their children’s vocabulary, language and social and
emotional skills from spending time with their older friends.”

Bill often talks to the children about the motorcycles that he used to own and spends time supporting their learning by reading and singing nursery rhymes, as well as helping them to eat at lunchtimes. This leads to the formation of strong, caring bonds between them. The children talk about Bill at home and ask for him when attending nursery.

The integrated nature of the Nursery in Belong within the care village provides a wealth of opportunities for such intergenerational connections to flourish. Belong and nursery teams work together to plan, co-ordinate and evaluate of a range of learning experiences for children, encouraging older people to become mentors and educators by sharing their wisdom and knowledge.

Other residents and guests, including Bill’s daughter and great-grandson, attended the celebration in the village’s venue, and children presented Bill with motorcycle-themed gifts, including a model Triumph of the kind that Bill used to own.

The £25,000 Indian superbike was provided by Bill Smith Motors, in Chester, where Bill used to buy his motorcycles and spare parts. It was brought from their Christleton show room by David Davies, sales director, who presented Bill with books signed by former great grand prix road racer Bill Smith.

Commenting on the day, Bill said: “It was great to see the bike. I last rode mine when I was 75, shortly before I sold it, so it really brought back memories, and I was very touched by the gesture. The children really made my day. They were also able to sit on the bike and gave me a copy of Bill Smith’s autobiography, which they read from.”

Sue Egersdorff added: “I’d like to thank NAPA and Bill Smith Motors for making the event possible, and everyone who attended, making it so special and memorable for Bill.”

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