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Richmond Villages - Caring for you
  • The comfort of a Memory Cushion

The comfort of a Memory Cushion

18 March 2016

A recently widowed grandmother wept with happiness after retirement home staff gave her a cushion made out of her late husband's favourite shirt.

Joyce Beckett, 93, became distressed in the evenings after her husband of 70 years, John, died aged 91 on February 11. Staff at Richmond Village in Northampton started noticing the elderly widow, who suffers from dementia, liked to always be with someone to hold their hand to comfort her. So Chris Rayatt-Howard, head of activities at the retirement home where she lives, decided to make the special 'memory cushion'.

He asked the couple's son David for John's favourite shirt which he then stitched over a cushion. Mr Rayatt-Howard also added a picture of Mr Beckett to the top pocket and attached message which read: 'This is a shirt I used to wear. Whenever you hold it know that I am there.' He then presented the cushion to Mrs Beckett last Thursday who wept with happiness when she realised it was made from her late husband's shirt.

Mrs Beckett, who has one grown-up son and one grandson, told staff she was 'quite overcome with emotion in a happy way' after receiving the gift. The couple's only son, David Beckett, a retired bank manager in Northampton, said: 'Chris who did it asked Claire, the senior adviser, to ask me if I would let them have a shirt of my father. 'I said yes and I can't believe what a lovely touch it was. 'I'm sure it will be a comfort because she has had some distressing times recently, particularly early evenings so to have that cushion is just remarkable. 'It is just so typical of Richmond, it really is care with a capital C.'

Claire Fry, the senior village adviser at Richmond Villages in Northampton, said staffs were emotional as they watched on. When I spoke with Joyce's son David he thought is was a brilliant idea and gave his permission straight away. 'Chris stitched it himself and when he gave it to her it was very emotional. 'It was one of his favourite shirts so she recognised what it was and she was very tearful. 'A lot of other staff who were on a training day were there as well and they had tears in their eyes and were getting emotional too. 'It is in her bedroom now and is always kept close to her.'

Photographs of the touching moment Mr Rayatt-Howard gave Mrs Beckett the cushion which were posted on Facebook have already reached over 21,500 people. Ms Fry added: 'I put a few photos on our page and was shocked when later than night in had reached over 2,000 people. 'It has now got to more than 21,500 and has gone viral. 'The reaction from people has been quite overwhelming to the point that we are getting requests to make cushions. 'It is such a kind gesture from Chris and is an example of person centred caring at its best. 'We are very lucky at Richmond Northampton to have such a talented member of staff with such a caring nature.'