News at Oakdale Care Group
March 8th 2021

International Women’s Day 2021

International Women’s Day has been celebrated for over 100 years, originating back to the first gathering which was held in 1911. Women across Europe on 19th March 1911, were campaigning against World War One and gender disparity and which led to inspiring women in other countries and eventually, globally.

Today, International Women’s Day still holds the same meaning of women’s inequality but is now also about celebrating women’s success and raising awareness, for a better tomorrow.

So we are celebrating International Women’s Day here at Oakdale Care Group by telling the inspirational stories of just some of the lovely, caring and resilient women within our homes and company.

‘’Here’s to strong women. May we know them, may we be them and may we raise them’’.


Jessie Braid | Resident of Layston Grove

Jessie Braid picture, a much-loved resident within our Layston Grove home, now 100 years old.

As a teenager, just out of high school at the start of World War 2, she joined the Royal Ordnance Corps helping to track German bombers during the blitz of 1940 and 1941. While London bore the early brunt of the initial bombings, the industrial towns in the Midlands were targeted in 1941 including Shrewsbury’s Rolls Royce plant where her brother worked.

A wartime bride in 1943, Jessie and Robert spent their first 3 years apart, Robert being stationed in India. But thankfully he did return and they were together for 71 wonderful years.

A cancer survivor with two replacement hips; she lived independently until the hips finally gave out in 2018 when she moved to Layston Grove. “They take good care of me here” she never tires of reminding us.

She is also now a great grandmother twice over, and inspiring yet another generation! She never ceases to amaze us all with her tenacity and determination.

A much-loved Mother, Grandmother, Great grandmother and friend.


Frieda Elfick | Resident of Layston Grove

Frieda was born on 29th March 1918 and resides with us at Layston Grove home also.

Age 17- started her career at the King Edward V11 orthopaedic hospital at Rivelin in Sheffield. The hospital specialised in treating children with tuberculosis, polio and other infections and viruses, nursing those with tuberculosis, outside on verandas in all weathers.

Frieda moved to London to commence her State Registration nurse training at University College Hospital, where she was nursing during the blitz and remembers always having to have a packet of cigarettes in her pocket to offer to the air raid casualties as they came in.

This was pre-NHS times and her salary was £5 per quarter (equivalent to £20 per year) but this did include board and lodging. She remembers the nurses were offered free seats at the west end theatres provided they turned up in evening dress!

After the war, by this point, Frieda spent time at several hospitals around the country working as a midwife. By the early 1950’s she was a sister tutor at the East End Maternity Hospital in Commercial Road London and remembers the poor living conditions that many people endured at that time and it was common to see children outside without any shoes!

Once she was married in 1955 she had to leave her midwifery role as in those days married women had to leave nursing. However, times changed and in the mid-1960s, Frieda took the opportunity to train as a health visitor.  She enjoyed this role very much firstly working in Barkingside in east London and latterly in rural Norfolk which was a nice contrast to her time spent working in the big cities and where once she had retired she and her husband spent some happy years in retirement.


Tracey Barlow | Support Services Manager of Kingfisher Court

Tracey was born and bred in Rochdale Lancashire in 1963 and was one of six girls, growing up with humble beginnings in a very loving and close family.

Tracey was once a Sunday school teacher by the age of fifteen, having gone through Brownies, Guides and Rangers, earning her a Queens Guide award and then a Silver and Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s award. She received her Gold pin in the ballroom at Buckingham Palace presented by the Duke of Edinburgh, remembering it was a very proud moment for her parents.

Tracey has had a wonderful career including working as a clerk at Turner Brothers Asbestos factory, but it was at High Wycombe Conference Centre, after being taught the art of Silver Service, where she fell in love with hospitality, and later returning to school to studying catering at Oldham collage. It was here where she gained her catering qualifications and worked as a chef in the local police station. She also secured a role as Catering Manager at one of the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games venues where in the space 9 days fed over 30,000 people and looked after Prince Edward & the Sophie Countess of Wessex!

In 1987, Tracy joined the Royal Air Force Catering Core meeting Princess Anne and the Duchess of Kent and where she met her Corporal husband. Having left the RAF on marriage we were posted to RAF Gibraltar for 3 years. During this posting, she was working for the NAAFI supplying the incoming Naval ships with their catering supplies and part-time working functions on the base in the Officers Mess. During this time, Tracey also welcomed her first daughter Rebecca followed by Hannah two years later.

Tracey has since gone on to gain many qualifications from Management, Assessor Trainer, Group Trainer, Advanced Certificates in Health & Safety & Food Safety, Mental Health to name but a few and more recently is hoping to pass her Infection Control and Prevention qualification and recognises that over the thirteen years, her qualifications have enabled her to train, encourage and develop hundreds of young and more mature adults coming into the hospitality industry, of which many have gone on to have very successful careers.

Her two girls have grown into two very independent young women and is very proud to witness them collecting their degrees in English Language and Mental Health Nursing. ‘’They continue to make me proud today with their strong personalities and drive to succeed. They say they had a good teacher and learned you have to pull your big girl’s pants up and carry on!’’.

Tracey is now in her 50’s and enjoys horse riding, has completed an indoor skydive and sped down a zip wire through the snow after completing a treetop obstacle course. Not to mention running her first ever 10k race at 48! She moved to Derbyshire with her partner Mark and started her role here at Kingfisher Court, sharing some of her own mum’s recipes on the menus. She is also now a grandmother to Jack and is looking forward to her oldest daughter’s wedding next year.


Erin O’Donnell | Home Admissions Advisor for Timken Grange and Westhill Park

Erin is our newest member here at Oakdale Care Group, starting her role in November 2020.

Erin is the Home Admissions Advisor for our homes Timken Grange and Westhill Park and her role is to ensure an effective and relaxed admission for any new residents that move into our homes. She has worked within Social Care for over 16 years within a mixture of different settings and roles and is truly passionate about care and people and thrives on ensuring that individuals receive the best possible person-centric care available to them.

In her spare time, Erin enjoys spending time with her loved ones, taking walks, listening to music, and has a real love for the outdoors, including wall climbing, traveling, and experiencing different cultures and countries.

Peggy Fensome | Resident of Westhill Park

Peggy is a much-loved resident within our home at Westhill Park, born on 14th June 1921.

On August 23rd 1941, she married her best friend Arnold. At the time, Arnold was on active service in the Army during the war including the Dunkirk landing. The following year, the pair welcomed their daughter, Judith Ann, on 13th September 1942. They both celebrated 69 years of marriage until Arnold sadly passed.

Peggy enjoyed her lifelong job as a mum and filled her home with the best home-cooked jam tarts and mince pies! Peggy also loved knitting, embroidery, cross-stitch, and cooking.

As well being a full-time mum, Peggy spent a lot of her life caring for her Mum and Dad when they became unwell and soon after, caring for her husband when he returned from Dunkirk. She was also a dedicated Secretary of the Mother’s Union as well as a trusted Guide Leader.

Later on in life, Peggy worked at Kettering Technical College as an examination supervisor (invigilator) and recalls how much she loved working there.

Speaking to her daughter, Peggy has fond memories of traveling around Australia in 1983 and remembers Lakes Entrance where she saw her first ‘blue tongued lizard’.

Peggy is a very proud woman who cares deeply for others and at 99 years of age, she has an amazing sense of humor and surprises everyone still with her wit. Peggy is looking forward to reaching 100 and hearing from the Queen. Peggy always tells us that as long as her family are happy and well then she has succeeded in her life.

Julie Nowak | Resident of Timken Grange

Julie, our lovely resident within Timken Grange, started her humble career as a teacher within upper schools for over 30 years, teaching in schools in Bletchley, Peterborough, and Northampton. She recalls that she first became interested in teaching as a family member was a teacher and she became inspired by her story and followed in her footsteps. She then went on to gain her a-levels, at an educational centre just outside Bath to enable her to teach. “When I first started, I enjoyed everything about my job, it had good pay and I started in a small school, so I knew all of the pupils”.

Julie moved around the country and mentions how easy it was to find work as a teacher back then and to this day, she still keeps in contact with the Head Master of her last school!



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