Call­ing it a day

Gwynn Shaw re­tir­ing as Drec­tor of Recre­ation at Alder­wood Rest Home af­ter 43 years of ser­vice

The Victoria Standard - - Living - CHUCK THOMP­SON

She moves around the com­mon room with prac­ticed ease. A light touch on a shoul­der, a whis­per in an ear, shift­ing a res­i­dent’s pos­ture. Prac­ticed it should be, she has been do­ing this for over 43 years for the same in­sti­tu­tion. That is a re­mark­able run and, by all ac­counts, she has done it well. But now Gwynn Shaw has de­cided to re­tire as Di­rec­tor of Recre­ation from Alder­wood Rest Home and join her hus­band Kenny in re­tire­ment.

There are big shoes to fill for the next di­rec­tor. Ex­pec­ta­tions will run high as great stan­dards have been es­tab­lished dur­ing her time at Alder­wood.

As we talk, res­i­dents and guests stop, chat, wave, or take a mo­ment to en­gage Gwynn. They are com­fort­able in her pres­ence. And she is with them. It is a re­la­tion­ship built up these many years both at the old Alder­wood (now Ma­cleod House) and the new Alder­wood, erected in 2010.

Like most of her days, peo­ple bang on the door, stick their head in, greet her in the hall. In­for­mal­ity sur­rounds this lady. She wouldn’t have it any other way. When asked how she got started, she tells me she hated school and asked her dad if she could quit if she got a full­time job. She found a job at Alder­wood in 1975, at the age of 16, and that was it for school. Dad kept his word.

She started in the kitchen, spent 25 years in house­keep­ing, and then grad­u­ated to Di­rec­tor of Recre­ation.

When I asked her why she stayed, she was blunt.

“The money was good and I bought a new out­fit every pay­day.”

But for that many years? You can only buy so many out­fits.

“The res­i­dents be­came like fam­ily, we had a lot of laughs to­gether. It was like Gram­mie and Grampy were here. You got at­tached to them.”

What were the high­lights for Gwynn? What made her smile?

“When some­one with de­men­tia called me by name, I knew then that they knew who I was. It made it spe­cial.” When was it sad? “When we lost one of the res­i­dents. Some were here over 27 years.”

Gwynn said that it has been a won­der­ful run filled with many great mem­o­ries, but she also re­al­izes that it is time to go.

Does she have any ad­vice for who­ever takes her place?

“Re­mem­ber, you wear many hats here...ex­pect to learn as you go... Every day is dif­fer­ent.”

Gwynn punches her last door code on Jan­uary 11, 2019. She will miss her res­i­dents and they will miss her.

Gwynn Shaw

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