Betty King remembers feeling lonely, the days she spent alone, watching out of her apartment window, waiting for children to pass on their way to school. It hardly seemed worth getting dressed in the morning. ‘It was very lonely,’ she recalls. But she doesn’t feel lonely any more.
These days she is up bright and early, looking forward to a game of cards with her new friends and ready for a busy day ahead.
Betty moved into The ExtraCare Charitable Trust’s Imperial Court scheme in Rushden in August 2012 and loves every minute of her new life.
‘There are friends everywhere,’ she says. ‘When I go into the restaurant they put their hands up and say good morning. It’s lovely, everyone is welcoming. I’ve never been so happy, since the children left home. They are happy for me too. ‘
Betty, now 87, had always had a busy life. She met her husband in a dance hall during the war, when he was home on leave from the RAF. They had four children, and when they were all at home she didn’t have a minute to spare. She worked in a shoe factory, came home to put lunch on the table which she had made the night before, went back to the factory and then looked after the children in the evening. ‘If you sat down you had four children to play with or get to bed,' she recalls. ‘I loved it.’ There was music coming from their bedrooms, ducks in the garden, their friends coming in for bread and jam. ‘It was bedlam sometimes,’ she recalls.
Then the children left home. One went to America, one to Scotland and the youngest sadly died in a motorbike accident. When she was 67 Betty retired from her job.
Soon after that, after 47 years in the same three bedroomed house Betty and her husband decided it was time to move. He was struggling to climb the stairs and she was cleaning bedrooms that were never used. The couple moved into a one bedroomed flat and then seven years ago Betty’s husband died. They had been married for 62 years. After a lifetime of company Betty was on her own.
‘It was a bit rough all of a sudden being on your own and being in a flat,’ she says. ‘You just sat there wondering what to do next. It was a lovely flat but it gets so lonely. I sat there day in and day out just me and the telly. I could watch the lorries going by and the children going to school. You didn’t see anyone else then until they came home.’
Betyy had broken her pelvis and this affected the use of her legs. She had also suffered a stroke and lost the use of her hand so she couldn’t enjoy knitting the way she used to. She didn’t know anyone who lived near her.
‘You get that into yourself you just sit and sit,’ she says. ‘You don’t want to be bothered with anything.’
Betty’s children were getting worried about her. She had already suffered two bad falls. It was a friend who lived in Imperial Court who told her how lovely it was and the first time Betty went along for a visit she thought ‘this is it’ and wondered why she hadn’t moved in years ago. It was on that first visit she met two of the residents who told her they had been playing cards. ‘Keep me a seat,’ she told them and she now plays cards with them regularly.
She also enjoys everything from crazy golf to bingo. She takes part in arts and crafts, has played ten pin bowling, enjoys fish and chip suppers with the other residents and goes out for lunch.
She leaves her one bedroomed apartment just after nine and comes back at 4pm or later. ‘It’s lovely,’ she says ‘Everyone here is friendly.’
Betty also has help with her housework and her washing. ‘They take it off and bring it all back and pack it away for me. I feel like a queen living here,’ she says. ‘The extra care you get in here is worth its weight in gold.
‘Everyone is so helpful. I can’t walk very far, they take me in a wheelchair, they bring me back, and nothing is too much trouble for anyone. It’s lovely.
She is now looking forward to the next ten years. And is she lonely any more? ‘Not a bit,’ she says.
For further information, please contact