Express & Star

Remarkable World War Two RAF veteran visits Sutton Coldfield care home ahead of D-Day

A local World War Two RAF veteran delighted residents at a Boldmere care home, sharing photographs, memories and anecdotes from her service. The visit was part of a host of activities at the home to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day on 6 June.

RAF Veteran Joan Langley talks to residents at Sutton Rose. Photo: Macc Care Group

The remarkable Joan Langley, 104, recounted to residents of Sutton Rose, part of Macc Care Group, how her mother had discouraged her from joining the RAF but that she had been passionate about enlisting. While Joan’s service never saw her leave England, she was stationed in both Worcestershire and Gloucester, and most notably worked on the ‘barrage balloons’ - a large uncrewed tethered balloon used to defend ground targets against aircraft attack.

As residents walked down memory lane with Joan, she showed them photos from her service, including her in full RAF uniform, and shared stories of her time in the RAF Brass Band while enjoying an afternoon cream tea put on especially for the visit.

On Joan’s inspiring visit, Sutton Rose Home Manager, Eva Recio Dominguez said: "Joan is quite simply the most inspiring person. We are so grateful to her for taking the time to speak with our residents, they enjoyed every moment. It was lovely to see her engage with each of our residents individually.

"Joan was quite taken with the home, and we did ask if she would like to join us, she said maybe she would when she was ‘older’. The shared experience of D-Day can be very connecting for our residents from this wartime generation. It’s always amazing to hear the stories from this time and the sense of community and spirit that is reflected."

Joan continues to be a member of the Sutton Coldfield RAF Veterans, whom she will be celebrating D-Day with this year. Meanwhile, at Sutton Rose, residents will be marking the day with a visit from David Valentine from the Sutton Coldfield Royal British Legion and a nostalgic menu featuring past-time favourites such as steak and kidney pudding. Residents will also be treated to wartime songs from a live band.

Sensory activities are a great way to support memory for older people and can aid those struggling to access memories - the smell of food cooking or the taste of a childhood favourite, even a song from a certain time in someone’s life can be a powerful way to evoke memories.

By Sarah Markulevicius - Contributor

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