The Diary: Still but a youngster, home is happy at 50

Broomgrove Nursing Home
Broomgrove Nursing Home
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At 50 years old, it’s fair to say Broomgrove Nursing Home is considerably younger than most of its 40 residents.

They tend to be in their 80s and 90s, and have enough stories to fill an entire newspaper. They include retired professors and ex-RAF personnel. There’s one, Rudy Wessely, who, as a child, fled his native Czechoslovakia to escape deportation to a Nazi concentration camp. Another, Zena King, was once one of the best-respected costume designers in London’s West End.

But at 50 years old this month, it’s also fair to say Broomgrove Nursing Home – the only charitable institution of its kind in the city – has just reached a considerable landmark of its own.

“There’s very few homes like this get to half a century so it’s a real honour,” says Jill Wall, manager of the complex in Broomgrove Road, just off Ecclesall Road. “It’s amazing to think we’ve been at the heart of this community for five decades.”

Its success may just be down to the fact that Broomgrove, as those residents will tell you, isn’t your average nursing home.

Here, there are cinema afternoons, bingo evenings, travelling theatre productions, singers and school visits. An IT suite allows residents to surf the net (“although not all can grasp it”), while arts sessions are regularly held. That staple of any residential home – the hair salon – is also present.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary, meanwhile, there was a party attended by Lord Mayor John Campbell.

“What we definitely are not,” says Jill, “is the kind of place where residents sit in a circle in an over-heated living room while staring into space all day. We’re a charity which means we’re not driven by profits, and any money we do make is pumped back into improving the place.”

It is a philosophy which the founding fathers would be proud of.

The home was opened in May 1963 with funding from a board of city philanthropists. They converted the building from what was previously a home for unmarried mothers into a centre for post-operation hospital patients. And while, the place still caters for such cases today, the 36 rooms and eight sheltered flats are now mainly taken by Sheffielders of a certain age who need a little help in their later years.

“There’s a lovely atmosphere,” says one, Nellie Bennett, 98. “I’ve been here more than 10 years now. I thought that was a long time until they told me it was 50.”