Some of the longest serving members
of staff past and present at Seymour House.
Former managers of Seymour House Geraldine Howe,
Dougie Dobbin and Mrs Helen Johnston. US4608-139A0
AS Seymour House prepares to close its doors
for the final time, staff and friends past and present came
together this week to reminisce about times gone by. Day Care
Worker, Jennie McClearn, looks back over the past 47 years and
bids a fond farewell to the Seymour Hill home.
'OLD People's Home Like a Luxury Hotel' was
the Star headline on June 24, 1961 when a brand new Seymour
House first opened its doors to residents.
But after 47 years of providing a home
from-home to many hundreds of people it will, in the near
future, close its doors forever.
On Tuesday November 11, a reunion of staff
and friends, both past and present, was held at Seymour House
where there was ample opportunity to indulge in more than a
little nostalgia by viewing an exhibition and flicking through
albums of photos charting the life of this large institution and
the larger-than-life characters who both lived and worked there.
Among those present were several members of
the very important part of Seymour House life that was the
Gospel Meeting. Beginning over 25 years ago, many people have
been involved in this much valued service of whom there is only
space to mention a few: Ann McKelvey, Bob Turner, Billy
Armstrong, Cecil Buchanan, Ella Williamson, Tommy Heasley and
Albert Allen. They brought music, joy and comfort to many and
are owed a huge debt of gratitude for a service so freely given.
Seymour House was the second purpose-built
home commissioned by the Antrim Welfare Committee and the first
to be constructed by the Northern Ireland Housing Trust
(forerunner to the present day Housing Executive). Those who
commissioned the building were keen to provide local care for
local people as, at that time, the nearest residential home was
in Carrickfergus .
They also wanted this new home to be of the
highest standard with hot and cold running water and built-in
wardrobes in every room. An added benefit was the employment
provided for the local population. Hundreds of people have
worked there over the years some coming to use the services as
they themselves grew older. Generations have passed through
Seymour House. Mothers then daughters have worked there. Parents
have lived there then years later their children have grown old
and come to live there too. But times change and services must
change with the times. Such large residential institutions are
being phased out as older people choose to remain in their own
Living or working in Seymour House was like
an alternative family life with all the usual ups and downs. On
Tuesday November 11, it was the 'ups' that were remembered the
most clearly while the 'downs' could only evoke a fond smile.