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  • Debbie Thrower

A thoughtful review of ‘A Great Place to Grow Old’ and other good things in Church Times

Updated: Nov 11



Tina English’s new book A Great Place to Grow Old (Darton, Longman and Todd, 2021) receives careful consideration in Philip Welsh’s review in this week’s edition of Church Times, (5 November 2021).


Welsh, a retired priest in the diocese of London, mentions the book’s focus on various ‘church projects’ of which Anna Chaplaincy is one prominently featured. He also highlights ‘sound advice about the management of volunteers.’ Adding, ‘anyone involved in church work with older people will find good advice here, as well as some challenges.’


Malcolm Guite

Another section of the paper caught my eye, (writes Debbie Thrower) on the regular back page column, from poet Malcolm Guite entitled ‘Poet’s Corner’.


In last week’s edition (22 October 2021), Guite tells of how he has written the foreword to another poet’s book just out, called Words to Remember: Poems lost and found by Phil Sharkey who, Guite explains, ‘is a hospital chaplain to geriatric patients.’


Sharkey has developed a technique (reminiscent of author and poet John Killick’s modus operandi with people in care homes living with dementia – see Poetry and Dementia: A practical guide, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2017) of ‘listening to confused and bewildered elderly patients, going through the slow losses, the fallings away of dementia, and, out of their words, he has discerned and crafted “found poems” to give their voices a new coherence and music,’ writes Guite.


He quotes lines from one poem called ‘Losing Myself’ – the poem formed from the words of the patient, and later the poet’s reflective reply, ‘seemed to take up and gather what was lost, as we might gather autumn leaves, and also in its own way, to promise spring and resurrection’.


It is an intensely moving piece of writing, honouring the patient in his confusion and casting his experience in the light of nothing less than cosmic renewal.


The book costs £10, plus postage and packing is an extra £2. Until online sales are established copies can be obtained by sending a cheque for £12 made payable to “Addenbrookes Charitable Trust” and addressed to Phil Sharkey at Chaplaincy Department, Box 105, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge CB2 0QQ.


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