Gracewell of Maids Moreton, on Church Street, is the home to its very own poet Bernard Baxter.
Bernard Baxter OBE, who has lived at the luxury care home since October 2015, has been sharing his very own poems with other residents and team members by submitting a select few to the residents’ blog. Gracewell of Maids Moreton is a top 20 care home for the South-East and was rated ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) on the 7th March 2017. The home provides high quality, personalised nursing, residential and dementia care.
85-year-old Bernard was born in Bury St Edmonds in 1933, growing up with a family who moved around a lot due to his father’s job with the National Farmers Union. Before moving to Gracewell of Maids Moreton, Bernard was an English Language and Literature teacher for 54 years, as well as a Head Teacher, for pupils between the ages of 12 and 19. A keen sportsman, he played Rugby Union for Northampton Saints and even had a spell as a boxer. He was also a magistrate for 33 years. Bernard’s passion, however, has always been for poetry.
It is a passion that was developed when Bernard attended both Nottingham and Leeds Universities, where he was an active member of poetry groups. He became a published poet when he completed his collection ‘Thirty Poems & One Other’ and was even awarded an OBE for Services to English Language and Literature.
Bernard says that he has written poetry for as long as he can remember and still makes sure to write every single day at Gracewell of Maids Moreton. He is currently working on his second book.
He enjoys sharing stories of his life, including a time when an attempt to sail from the West Coast of Ireland to England with his brother failed after they spent five days at sea with only enough food for two.
Despite his stories, when asked about the inspiration for the focus of his poems, Bernard said, “I just write whatever comes into my head!”
Andrea Bullen, Home Admissions Adviser at Gracewell of Maids Moreton, said:
“At Gracewell of Maids Moreton we know that all our residents are special, having lived extraordinary lives with much still to offer. Bernard is exemplary of this and we are grateful that he is so happy to share his passion for poetry with us. I am such a fan and even have my very own signed copy of Bernard’s book.
“We always seek ways to keep our residents involved with the rest of the care home and their local community. We hope that Bernard’s poems will inspire others to be just as creative and actively engaged as he is.”
Here is an extract from Bernard’s poem ‘Nicky Raynor’:
Was the village barber
Cutting boys’ hair in a small
Metal shack on high street
No sign on the door of course –
He knew when he was open
Besides word soon went round
(Wives naturally sometimes
Clipped their husband’s thatch at home
Or booked a perm to Ely on the bus)