Lesley Ritchie with residents at Balhousie Willowbank

MEDIA RELEASE: Monday 4 March, 2024


Carnoustie Citizen of the Year huge hit at Balhousie Willowbank

Every month, Balhousie Willowbank, a care home in the heart of Carnoustie, welcomes a very special visitor to run an activities session with the residents.

In fact, she’s more than special – she’s a VIP! Meet Lesley Ritchie. She’s a volunteer with the local dementia group, a Beaver Leader and an expert at running music and dance activities with older people. That’s just a few of the ways she helps in the local community.

It’s no surprise really that she’s Carnoustie Citizen of the Year!

When she comes for her monthly session at Willowbank, just five minutes in Lesley’s company and you can see and hear why she’s so popular and well-loved in the local area. Her activities sessions are an absolute joy.

Starting off with a warm up, Lesley gets the residents moving throwing a toy roast chicken to each other, then they go into singing along to a range of songs accompanied by lots of gentle chair exercises.

The music is perfectly chosen to suit the residents from Do-Re-Mi from The Sound of Music to the William Tell Overture. And then there’s the props! Vibrant scarves, paper plates, balloons – all with sensory benefits and loads of fun.

The results are plain to see by the level of engagement and the sheer joy on the residents’ faces. There are often members of staff who find excuses to come along and join in too!

Mandy Grant, Activities Coordinator at Balhousie Willowbank, said:

“It’s always positive when Lesley comes in because you can see how much fun the residents have. Myself too! You can’t help but join in. Everyone always ends up singing along and having a laugh. It’s brilliant.”

Lesley’s love for working with older people began when she was a volunteering in a local shop. Lesley said:

“One day I was singing to myself in the shop and one of the ladies in there said ‘oh they’d love you along at the dementia group at the church as they love singing.’ That was in 2017 when I went along to the group run by Alzheimer Scotland. That’s how it all started.”

Since then, Lesley has completed courses about safe movement for the elderly and loves nothing more than going around visiting care homes and various dementia groups doing music and movement sessions. Lesley added:

“I really enjoy it! I like coming up with new things and then observe what the residents enjoy. I’m very busy so the only thing that suffers is my house because I’ve never got time to tidy!”

Never mind Carnoustie Citizen of the year – Lesley could be Care Home Citizen of the Year!

For more information about Balhousie Care Group visit www.balhousiecare.co.uk

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Photo captions included on images

For media enquiries please contact Anna Gunn or Melanie Brockway on: Anna.Gunn@balhousiecare.co.uk or Melanie.Brockway@balhousiecare.co.uk
Or call 01738 254 254


Notes to Editors

About Balhousie Care Group

Balhousie Care Group (BCG) was formed 30 years ago to fill a gap in quality residential care in central and North East Scotland. Today, with 24 homes, providing care to almost 900 residents and employing over 1400 team members, it is one of the leading providers of care for older persons in Scotland, along with specialist dementia and Huntington’s care, care for young adults with a diagnosed learning disability and a Youth Physical Disability service.

Owned by AcalisCare, Balhousie Care prides itself on its person-centred approach to care and inclusivity: putting people right at the heart of everything they do.

Their person-centred approach to care, innovative practices and close community links have made them a trusted name in care and earned them a swathe of awards.

In 2022 alone, BCG took home three Courier Business Awards, including the prestigious Business of the Year, a Great British Care Award, a Scottish Care award and an s1Jobs Shine Award. In 2023, Balhousie Care were finalists in four categories of the UK-wide Housing with Care Awards, winning the award for Supported Housing Innovation. They also achieved four finalists in the 2023 Scottish Care Awards, winning the Training, Learning and Staff Development Award.