Nursing home’s Christmas surprise

23.12.2021 | Mission News, Social Witness, Christmas, COVID-19 Emergency

Staff and residents at Harold McCauley House had an early Christmas present recently, when Santa made an early call on the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s nursing home in Omagh. Arriving with in his sleigh, pulled by Rudolph and Prancer, Santa completed the festive cheer by giving out presents, as the residents enjoyed their Christmas party.

Home manager, Michelle Murray said that all the staff worked hard to make this seasonal event one to remember. “The home was decorated beautifully for Christmas and the residents were able to enjoy ‘Santa’s Grotto’ in our recently refurbished summer house. Then in the afternoon, our very special guest arrived on his sleigh pulled by Dancer and Prancer, which was such a lovely surprise for everyone.

“The amazement on the faces of our residents was a sight to see, a real picture, as many of them never imagined they would see a real reindeer, never mind two and pulling Santa’s sleigh at Harold McCauley. For Winifred, our resident who has been with us the longest, Santa made it a real red letter day as it was her 99th birthday.”

Michelle continued, “It goes without saying that no Christmas party is complete without a visit from Santa. But even he, along with all our staff, was tested for the last few weeks so he was able to carry out his Santa duties expertly.

“It really was such a special day, complete with a delicious homemade tea with scones, mince pies, tray bakes and Christmas cake, all delicately prepared by Ruth, our head cook, and her team. So a big thank you to them,” she said.

Michelle also thanked DJ Chris, who got everyone into the Christmas spirit with festive songs to suit all ages. “DJ Chris goes to many of the local nursing homes at this time of year and all for free. He also livestreams them on Facebook so family and friends can take part and send in requests for their loved ones. He will never know how much joy he has brought to the resident’s and staff of Harold McCauley House,” Michelle said. She also thanked Bobby Gilchrist, Harold McCauley’s Santa, who is long standing friend of the nursing home.

Opened in 1992, and run by PCI’s Council for Social Witness, Harold McCauley House provides nursing care and support primarily for older people within a Christian environment and welcomes residents from all denominations. Situated in a secluded, tranquil setting close to Omagh town centre, with views of the Camowen River, the home can accommodate 32 residents with nursing staff on call 24-hours per day.

“At times like these, and after what everyone has been through these last 20-plus months, having Santa and two reindeers at Harold McCauley, along with DJ Chris as part of our Christmas celebrations, meant such a lot to our residents. I was with them the day after and everyone was still talking about it – especially the reindeers,” Denise Keegan, PCI's Head of Older People's Services said.

“The staff over this last while, through the lockdown and the ongoing Covid measures that we have in place, have consistently gone the extra mile to keep residents and colleagues safe and well cared for in these difficult times, which is a great reassurance to families and loved ones. They have gone that extra mile once more, making this a Christmas to remember.”

You can find out more about Harold McCauley House here and the work of the Council for Social Witness here.

Photos (1) Santa (Bobby Gilchrist) arrives at Harold McCauley House with his little helper (care assistant Caitlin McKernan) (2) Harald McCauley resident Winifred Allen who celebrated her 99th birthday when Santa arrived, with Prancer

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