Master of the Charterhouse, Ann Kenrick, lives on the site, and although everyone now is keeping at a safe distance she still sees and chats with the Brothers as they exercise and come down to pick up their meals – everyone wearing their masks. Here she catches up with Brother Walter and asks him how he is feeling during lockdown.
Walter Balmford will be 91 in May and has been living at the Charterhouse for some years. He is understandably proud of his MBE and Honorary Fellowship of the City and Guilds which recognise his work with educational establishments and with city institutions. He is still President of Abercorn School and insists he is not retired. Before lockdown he was always out and about on his motorised scooter attending at least 8 meetings and functions a week.
What have you found invaluable?
The telephone. I make between 25-30 calls a day to old friends and make sure they are ok. I don’t have a computer and so I have to rely on others to bring to my attention things that are important.
What has been hard?
I had to miss the funeral of a very old friend but have been sent a cd which I hope to play. Hobbies I used to have like needlework are too challenging with my arthritis now.
What has helped?
Keeping in touch with old friends, enjoying the wonderful gardens in the sunshine and the staff have all been very helpful and supportive.
How has your routine adjusted?
I had such a strict routine and so it was hard to adjust to lockdown at first.
I get up and take a spin around the grounds to get some fresh air on my scooter ending up at the gatehouse where I pick up my paper which is important for my routine. I then go back to my apartment and make my phone calls to friends including two ladies who have both had the virus and both recovered. One of them, Felicity, who lives nearby does some errands for me and brings shopping to the gate and we have a chat at a distance. At 12:15 I go down to the Old Library with my music and play the piano to entertain the Brothers as they collect their lunch – my favourites are ‘My Way’ and the ‘Sound of Music’ and I hope it cheers everyone up! It was great when the Master’s husband played the guitar a few times. I then go to the kitchens for a chat with the chefs and to find out what is on offer and then back to my room for a nap. We can no longer have an evening service but I go down to the chapel at 17:00 for some private reflection and prayer. I’m pleased that I’ve adapted well to the new routine.
What are you looking forward to?
Over the last few years I would say I have become a ‘people person’ and am looking forward to seeing my friends again and to communal eating in the Great Hall. I would also dearly love to be able to see my family especially my great grandchildren and speak to them.
Here’s Brother Walter having a little dance to the guitar, played for the Brothers by Ann Kenrick’s husband, Mark.