At Bernard Sunley, the Woking-based nursing and dementia care home run by charity Friends of the Elderly, residents Helen and Geoff Harrold, have been celebrating their June birthdays, but made sure they had separate celebrations to extend the festivities.
Birmingham-born Geoff has been a resident at the care home since 2022 with Helen, who is originally from Newport in Wales, joining him shortly after. The sociable couple thoroughly enjoy living together at Bernard Sunley and love taking part in many of the care home’s activities together. Both Geoff and Helen enjoy a good party so like to make the most of their birthdays every year. “Even though both our birthdays fall a few day apart in June, we always have separate birthday celebrations so neither of us misses out on their own special day,” said Helen.
This year, Helen turned 81-years-old on 13th June and Geoff, who Helen affectionately calls her ‘Toy Boy’, celebrated his 78th birthday on 19th June. “Having our birthdays so close together means that we are both Geminis, and according to the stars, this means we are a very compatible match, which we are,” Geoff continued. “Well, we would have to be after all these years together,” added a giggling Helen.
Married for 51 years, both Helen and Geoff agree they are, without doubt, each other’s best friend. “We do most things together, we just love being together,” said Helen. “We always like to take part in the wide range of activities at Bernard Sunley. Our favourites are definitely the exercise classes, quizzes and the coffee mornings, it’s lovely to be able to have a cuppa and a chat with all our friends here. We especially enjoy the coffee morning talks that take place, they are so interesting and cover so many topics,” added Geoff.
“A recent coffee morning talk was on Shakespeare, which was so engaging and interesting. We were joking and said if we had to be any characters in a book, we’d be Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Our friends found this funny, but I love reading and this the romantic story and Geoff would love to go on a trip to Italy, so it totally fits,” continued Helen.
Each Friday, Helen and Geoff attend Bernard Sunley’s Prayer Service together as they have always loved going to church. Never a pair to sit still for too long, the couple thoroughly enjoy going out on the day trips the care home team organises. “The last trip we went on was a calming and peaceful boat trip along the canal,” Geoff continued. “Now the weather is improving, we’re looking forward to more day trips out and about, perhaps even a visit to the seaside for a sneaking ice cream and fish and chips, that would be perfect.”
“Geoff is totally and utterly ‘Car Mad’. I only said the other day that if there was ever an eighth Dwarf for Snow White, he’d fit right in as ‘Car Mad Geoff’, Helen added. “For our honeymoon we went to Guernsey and our friends, who lived close to the airport, said that we could park Geoff’s car – his pride and joy – on their drive whilst we were away as it was easy to get taxis to and from the airport from their home.
“When we got back from Guernsey, we jumped in a taxi to our friends. As we pulled up outside their house, there was Geoff’s treasured baby in all its glory, with a massive For Sale sign in the window. As you can imagine, Geoff went absolutely nuts, only to find out – once he’d calmed down – that it was all a big welcome home joke that our friends had planned. It was even funnier as our friend was so worried about the For Sale sign he’d put into Geoff’s car, that he sat watching the car out of his front window for an hour or so before we got there, just in case anybody was looking at it when we arrived. I did laugh so, and once Geoff saw the funny side, he did too,” continued Helen.
For their birthday celebrations this year, the Bernard Sunley care team made sure both Helen and Geoff’s special days were a perfect for them. The Birthday Girl enjoyed a special Rat Pack performance by entertainer ‘Daniel’ who, according to Geoff, does a fantastic Frank Sinatra tribute act.
When it came to Geoff’s day, he wanted to relax with Helen and make the most of the glorious weather in the care home’s conservatory and garden. “Having a relaxing day was just what I fancied,” said Geoff. “It was nice to sit back and do nothing. It made a nice change as we are always on the go here as there’s always so much going on,” concluded Geoff.
Andy Cumper, the Registered Manager at Bernard Sunley said: “Geoff and Helen are a fantastic couple, full of energy, full of laughter and a joy to have living with us at Bernard Sunley. There’s never a dull moment when they are around, lots of joking and chatter, they have us all in stitches. It was great to be able to celebrate their birthdays and give them each the perfect days they wanted. They are such well-loved members of the Bernard Sunley family, we all wanted to give them extra special days, as they are extra special to us.”