Ninety-year-old Ted Cooper took a heart-warming trip back to Liverpool, his childhood home.
Ted, a former Witney mayor, has been diagnosed with mild dementia and struggles to hear, but Witney Community Support Service (CSS) supports him to live as independently as possible within his own community.
Ted's support worker Scott Wilkinson always knew Liverpool was close to Ted’s heart and so organised the trip.
Scott, who has worked at Witney CSS since 2019, said: “He’s got so many stories to tell and he’s great company. Even though he’s hard of hearing, he’s a great lip reader so we always have great conversations.”
During Covid when Ted was unable to go to the centre, Scott made regular home visits to see him.
He said: “Ted’s a lifelong Liverpool FC fan. He talks a lot about his experiences on Merseyside, including playing dice with his mates on the street and visiting Strawberry Fields where his sisters stayed in care.
"It got me thinking about whether I could take Ted back there, to visit his old stomping ground and reflect on some of the experiences he had as a boy.”
Ted was born in Liverpool but his father was in the Merchant Navy so was absent a lot.
When his mother was no longer able to care for him, he was moved with his brothers to a children’s home in Wakefield.
But he returned to Liverpool in his 20s before moving on to Witney where he spent the majority of his later life, including being town mayor for three years.
When the offer of a trip to Liverpool was suggested, Ted jumped at the chance.
The pair started their pilgrimage with a trip to the Albert Docks, an area of Liverpool which has undergone significant change since Ted was younger.
He was able to walk around the Maritime Museum, recounting stories from his father including a voyage when he brought home a monkey!
A quick refreshment stop outside the famous Cavern Club was followed by a journey to Liverpool’s grand Gothic cathedral.
Scott recalled: “Ted managed to walk the majority of the morning but, as the day went on, we chose to adapt our sightseeing tour, traveling to some roads which held significance to him.”
These included a trip to Strawberry Fields where his sisters lived and Braemer Street where he used to play dice with his friends.
And, of course, the obligatory photo on the Beatles' Penny Lane.
A busy day was finished off, at Ted’s request, with a fish and chip tea.
Ted said: “Liverpool is a special place for me. I’ve remembered things I’ve not thought about for years. For Scott to take a weekend off and experience these things with me is something I’ll always be grateful for.”
Selina Crozier, Team Leader at Witney CSS, said the team had a meeting about thinking outside the box when supporting people.
“It’s all part of Oxfordshire’s approach to do things differently,” she said.
For Ted’s daughters, Jeannette Gardiner and Lyn Sharpe, this new way of working makes all the difference to their dad’s life.
Mrs Sharpe said: “Witney CSS has been and still is a very important part of Dad’s life. For us, as a family, it’s a place where we know Dad is cared for.
"I am so grateful for everything they do. I just wish every elderly person had this sort of opportunity.”
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