Former BBC Royal Correspondent JENNIE BOND reveals what she would put in her own memory box, after been inspired by those at Moore Place care home, which Jennie opened in December
I’m sure most people would agree that memories, rather than possessions or material goods, represent the true sum of your life and work. Safely stored away in your mind, they remain the one thing that can’t be stolen, left behind on a train or destroyed by flood or fire.
Sadly, for those living with dementia, memories can be lost without external interference, as I know only too well, having witnessed my mother’s total loss of memory as she progressed into advanced dementia.
At Moore Place, a brand new Anchor dementia-specialist care home in Esher in Surrey which I had the pleasure of opening, I was struck by the thoughtful and clever design of the building, developed to assist those living with dementia in every way possible.
For me, one of the most brilliant ideas was a ‘memory box’ outside the bedroom of each resident. Filled with items which objectify key achievements, celebrations, fond memories and loved ones, these boxes not only help residents to identify their own bedroom, but also help to reassure, comfort and spark lively conversation about the happy times represented by each object.
My visit to Moore Place prompted me to think about what I’d put in my very own memory box.
As a memento of my childhood, I’d include a favourite photograph of my family from when I was a little girl. It would show my mother and father with me and my two older sisters, Annette and Susan, at our home in Spring Road, in Letchworth Garden City in Hertfordshire. We moved to the house when I was five and only sold it this year, so it’s been a huge part of my life and a place that I could always call ‘home’.
I would choose something slightly more personal for my memory box – a pair of tights given to me by Princess Diana in 1995.
My second item would be a cassette recording of my husband Jim’s country music show, which he used to do every Saturday night on LBC. We were listening to his show when our daughter Emma was born in 1990, so not only would this remind me of his voice, but also of one of the most important days of my life.
Emma was like a little doll as a baby and it’s hard to believe she’s now 25. I’d include one of her favourite baby grows, which she wore as a new-born, not only because of its pretty floral print, but also because it was given to her by her half-sister, my step daughter Danielle, and so has huge sentimental value.
I’d have to include something from my years as the BBC’s royal correspondent, a role I held for 14 years. I have a huge collection of invitations to various state events, each of which summons up a different memory of a wonderful party.
However, I would choose something slightly more personal for my memory box – a pair of tights given to me by Princess Diana in 1995. I’d always admired Diana’s legs, a compliment I made sure to pass onto her. In response, she gave me seven pairs of her preferred brand of tights for Christmas.
While most have been laddered over the years, I’ve kept two pairs aside, still in immaculate condition, as a memento of her kindness.
In middle age, I embarked upon quite an adventure, appearing on the ITV show I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. This was one of the best experiences of both my life and career, completely changing the way the public view me. If I couldn’t fit my Bushtucker hat in the box, I’d take my jungle T shirt with my name and the voting phone number on it.
To remind me of the happiest moments of my life, from birthdays to marriages, children, royal events, I’m a Celebrity and Strictly Saturday evenings on the sofa, I’d have to pop a label from a bottle of Prosecco into my memory box. My best memories are those filled with laughter, popping a cork and celebrating the good times….. and I hope to continue sipping from a flute well into my old age.
For more information about Moore Place and Anchor click here