Mr. John Carrington, a true testimony of Reconnect community success

19 January 2024 News

John Carrington, who lives at the Reconnect community in Acre Close, Middleton has found a new lease of life thanks to the support of the dedicated Reconnect team at Middleton Park Lodge Nursing Home.


John spent his entire 45-year working life as a locomotive fitter and was the last Carrington of many generations of his family to work in the coal mines, first at Water Haigh Colliery, before moving on to Saville Colliery, Gascoigne Colliery and finally Wistow Colliery, from where he retired. As was his family tradition he was named John, the same as his father and grandfather before him.

John’s retirement lasted all of two weeks before the National Coal Mining Museum came calling and he was back in work again for 17 years, driving and maintaining their locomotive and taking guests on tours – plus playing Santa each year! His cheeky personality won him a legion of fans, including many celebrities such as the late Paul O’Grady, Robson Green and Princess Anne.

John was often seen on TV talking about his career and the pit ponies he was an expert in, starring on The One Show and Look North. His distinctive personality even got him hired to appear in a Pot Noodle advert!

His enjoyable life of retirement, which comprised of cruises with his wife Mary and travelling to the USA, the Caribbean and Canada, began to change when he was diagnosed with Dementia, as daughter Tracy Carrington recalls, “He was an eternal optimist, always laughing, always had a tale to tell, very positive and overall my best friend” she said. “When Dementia started taking its toll on Dad, he was confused, angry and didn't understand what was happening to him. Mum could not cope as Dad's personality completely changed. For the mental health of Mum and the wellbeing of Dad, I made the heartbreaking decision to look for a care home. Following time spent at a residential care home, Dad was sad, angry and confused constantly.” 

Thankfully there was help at hand. Tracy visited Middleton Park Lodge and felt this was the new home he needed. “I knew once I visited the home that Dad would be far happier.  On my pre-visit I was shown around, everything was explained to me and the touch of having a mining photo on Dad's room door brought me to tears. He is so much more settled at Middleton Park Lodge than I ever imagined possible, it fills me with confidence that the team there have his best interests at heart and tailor their care accordingly.”

Since he came to live at Middleton Park Lodge, John has grown in confidence and has been able to get out and about in the local community more, including regularly enjoying fish and chips at his favourite pub, something he had previously not been able to do since being diagnosed with dementia.

Paulina Drzewiecka, Middleton Park Lodge Home Manager and Dementia Specialist, said, “It is my absolute passion to welcome John to our care home and to continue to deliver person-centred care to those living with Dementia. This is what I love most about our new Reconnect community we have introduced. We are always improving the care we provide, such as implementing consultations for families regarding Dementia care for their loved ones and making our Reconnect family even stronger.”

We asked for Paulina’s perspective on how she felt Mr Carrington transformed from his first day in the care of the home to now and she said ‘John was our first resident in the reconnect community here. When I met John he was resting in his bed and was not involved or engaged in our conversation. I could see that he needed more stimulation and love to overcome the  stress of moving into a new home and to come out of his shell. It took time, effort and compassion.

Colleagues from the beginning started engaging John in a range of activities that we were told he likes -with success. John opened himself again and started enjoying life. We are all  pleased to see John’s journey.

We also asked Paulina what she thinks the reasons for John’s transformation are and she said ‘John’s transformation can be summarised in a few words: seeing John as a person, engaging John with people, the community and things he likes to do and when he likes to do them and of course being there for John.’

Part of the award-winning Orchard Care Homes group, Middleton Park is a dementia-friendly home offering residential dementia care and short-term respite care. For more information call: 0113 271 2307 or click the link below