Lesley tops the guest list at Carnoustie care home

Every month Balhousie Willowbank care home in Carnoustie welcomes a very special visitor to run an activities session with its residents.
​Activities co-ordinator Mandy Grant with Lesley Ritchie.​Activities co-ordinator Mandy Grant with Lesley Ritchie.
​Activities co-ordinator Mandy Grant with Lesley Ritchie.

Lesley Ritchie volunteers with the local dementia group, is a Beaver Leader and an expert at running music and dance activities with older people – and those just a few of the ways she helps in the local community.

So it is no surprise that she’s Carnoustie Citizen of the Year.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Starting off with a warm-up, Lesley gets the residents moving throwing a toy roast chicken to each other, then they go into singing along to a range of songs accompanied by lots of gentle chair exercises.

The music is perfectly chosen to suit the residents from ‘Do-Re-Mi’ from ‘The Sound of Music’ to ‘The William Tell Overture’. And then there are the props – vibrant scarves, paper plates, balloons – all with sensory benefits and loads of fun.

The results are plain to see by the level of engagement and the sheer joy on the residents’ faces and members of staff often find excuses to come along and join in.

Mandy Grant, activities co-ordinator, said: “It’s always positive when Lesley comes in because you can see how much fun the residents have. Myself too!

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"You can’t help but join in. Everyone always ends up singing along and having a laugh. It’s brilliant.”

Lesley’s love for working with older people began when she was a volunteering in a local shop.

She said: “One day I was singing to myself in the shop and one of the ladies in there said ‘oh they’d love you along at the dementia group at the church as they love singing.’

"That was in 2017 when I went along to the group run by Alzheimer Scotland. That’s how it all started.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Since then, Lesley has completed courses about safe movement for the elderly and loves nothing more than going around visiting care homes and various dementia groups doing music and movement sessions.

She added: “I really enjoy it! I like coming up with new things and then observe what the residents enjoy.

"I’m very busy so the only thing that suffers is my house because I’ve never got time to tidy!”