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This week’s letters to The Buteman include concerns over the proposed closure of the day centre at Thomson Court, and fond memories of the former Winter Garden in Rothesay.

An essential facility

Sir, – Many people have already made cogent points about the proposed closure of the Day Centre at Thomson Court. Having had personal experience of the benefits of day care for a much-loved mum, I would like to add my voice. While I accept that most people want to stay in their own homes for as long as possible, I would point out that this means increased burdens on carers, and indeed the whole community. The day centre actually makes it possible for people to live at home for longer. Many carers are themselves ageing and infirm with health problems, and imposing further burdens on them is highly likely to add to the health-care bill and pressures on the island’s GPs. I think it is worrying that there is so little information about what this proposed ‘befriending’ in the home actually means for dementia sufferers and their families. A six-month consultation is not going to help unless we know how it works. Here are some specific questions which must be answered:

How many hours a day will this mean for each family? And how many days a week? Yes, I know it varies, but I find it hard to believe that all the users of the day centre will get as much care as they do now.

Will the family members (or other carers) be able to leave the affected person for those hours and get on with their lives, or remain trapped in their homes?

Will the befriender be the same person most of the time or change with each visit?

How much physical help will be offered – does this include “personal care” such as bathroom visits or showers?

Will the befriender be cooking lunch?

And, most importantly to me and other families on the island, how will this impact the viability of the residential side of the Thomson Home? Or the Phoenix centre? The kitchen at Thomson Court provides lunch for residents, staff and day-care users. Will there be staff cuts there as well?

My late father could rely on a few hours’ respite a day in the peace of his own home while Mum was in the care of day centre staff, secure in the knowledge that she would come home entertained, clean, well-fed and gently cared for.

He was able to deal with his little household chores. He could go out to lunch at the Green Tree cafe or Trinity. He could invite friends to visit him. These small freedoms meant a world of difference to him compared to the creeping isolation, exhaustion and constant struggle to cope on his own before she was able to go there. My own daily visits helped, but nothing like as much as a few hours of respite.

Befriending does not offer those same freedoms. It may even increase pressures within the family home.

When he finally had to accept that he could no longer cope with Mum at home, and she became a resident, it was easier for him to agree to her going into full-time care because he knew the standard of care she would receive, and still receives.

Monitoring care standards is relatively easy at a single centre. It will not be so easy when spread across the community and could become both time-consuming and intrusive. The effects of care-in-the-home on the carers would have to be monitored too.

I know that both my parents have had a better quality of life because of the excellent care and friendships offered by both day-care and residential services at Thomson Court. It is certain that Dad (Deryck Southgate) lived longer, happier and with more freedom.

We have enough experience of repeated cuts to be deeply concerned about losing a facility like this. It must not go unchallenged. Who knows what will be cut next? – Yours, etc.,

Ellen Lambert

39 Ardbeg Road, Rothesay

‘Our grand old lady’

Sir, – It has saddened me greatly to notice the downward appearance of what was an iconic building, both in the history of Rothesay and of the Scottish variety theatre.

I, of course, refer to the building that is now the Discovery Centre but, to myself, generations of holidaymakers, and most of the island’s elder residents, it will always be the Winter Garden.

Billed as ‘The Rothesay Entertainers’ of whatever year it was, i.e. ‘The Rothesay Entertainers of 1958’, etc., The Rothesay Winter Garden was the halcyon booking for variety artistes from its opening in 1924 until its closure as a theatre in 1972. For many seasons, the artistes’ bookings entailed not only a lengthy residence in Rothesay but also, many times, there was a tour, either prior to or after the season, of ‘The Rothesay Entertainers’.

Unfortunately, from the late 60s onwards there was a downward spiral in the popularity of

the traditional holiday resorts, with the Clyde coast suffering more than the major English resorts.

I have been told by many people who have absolutely no experience in theatre and have no idea of what Rothesay was like in the decades immediately after WW2 that the Clyde coast resorts went into decline due to the fact that resorts such as Blackpool, Brighton, Bournemouth and Morecambe had bigger variety names than our own resorts. These were artistes who appeared regularly on television. However, these acts commanded a very high fee and the promoters, to recoup their outlay, would demand venues of 1500 to 2500 seats. There were no such auditoria outwith the major cities in Scotland to accommodate these acts. It had nothing to do with Rothesay not being ambitious enough to book these acts, but sadly, even if every house was sold out, the income would not have been enough to pay for many of the ‘Tops’, indeed Chalmers Wood the promoter presented a Sunday concert on August 12, 1962, with top twenty artiste Emile Ford and the Checkmates.

This grand old lady of Scottish variety is, at present, in a very tatty and dilapidated appearance, much of which is due to lack of proper maintenance over the years.

In operating as the Discovery Centre it is well presented and laid out internally and is a welcome attraction for day visitors, especially if the weather is ‘inclement’.

My worry is that it will soon reach a stage where a major shutdown and overhaul will be required. – Yours, etc.,

Iain Gillespie

37 East Princes Street, Rothesay

Cancer Research donations

Sir, – On behalf of the local committee of Cancer Research UK, I would like to thank the following for their recent generous donations.

In loving memory of our Mum, Jean McKirdy, from the McKirdy family, £50; treasured memories of Morland, loved always, Bette and family, £50;

donation from Liz Crawford, £20; customers of Co-operative Store, Bridge Street, £47.54; Zavaroni’s Cafe, £51.83; Kingarth Hotel £30.57; Electric Bakery, £22.50; Hi Spirit Co., £19.04; Dil’s Newsagents, £34.67; Jessmay’s, £20.75; saved pennies, £4.55. – Yours, etc.,

Fiona Martin, Donations Secretary

Bute branch of Cancer Research UK

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