Renaissance Care Olympics are a winner at Forres Care Home

Meadowlark Care Home residents have put Forres on the map as the home can now boast an array of Olympic athletes.

Following weeks of gentle training, residents from care homes across the country teamed up to compete in the first ever Renaissance Care Olympics in a bid to better their physical and mental wellness. The 15 care homes battled for victory in five categories; Pitch n Putt, 400m walking, seated volleyball, boxing and beanbag throwing, with resounding success for one Forres care home.

Staff at Renaissance Care’s Meadowlark went the extra distance for their Olympians, arranging for music, dancing and Asian cuisine at both opening and closing ceremonies, with celebrations rivalling those in Tokyo. The activities were found to be so popular, that the care home plan to continue their walking, boxing and Pitch n Putt challenges long after the competition ends.

Despite the age range of the Meadowlark Olympic team spanning from 70 to 98, the contest allowed for many firsts within the home. Many of the female athletes had never tried boxing before, but it has since become one of the most popular activities within the home. For others, it was an opportunity to reconnect with hobbies from their past, as with one resident who fondly reflected on her days spent with a walking group as she grafted to rack up the most 400m walking stints throughout July.

With the majority of residents joining in the fun and games, staff reported an extraordinary difference in the fitness and stamina of residents. Amongst those who benefitted was Ian Macdonald, a keen walker with improved mobility following the challenge.

Derra Kew, Activities Co-ordinator at Renaissance Care’s Meadowlark Care Home, said: “The difference in our residents has been phenomenal. After a year where energy levels have been low, the Renaissance Care Olympics has given Meadowlark the boost that we all needed.

“Throughout lockdown, we’ve had to be creative when planning activities, and since we always encourage gentle exercise, this seemed like the perfect idea. I’m very proud of everyone’s efforts – bring on Paris 2024!”

Amongst Meadowlark’s participants in the Renaissance Care Olympics was 74-year-old Ian MacDonald. Born in Tomatin, near Inverness, Ian is the oldest of five, and is also a twin. His father worked on the railways and farmed his whole life, while his mother had her hands full looking after four sons and one daughter at home.

Growing up, Ian left school aged 16 to work in a local distillery as a malt man, before joining the army to later become a tank operator. It was in this period of his life which he met his wife Elizabeth, a care assistant. Ian said of his lifelong love: “I met her at a dance and we’ve been dancing ever since”.

Aside from dancing, Ian has recently been trying a whole host of new activities at Meadowlark Care Home through the Renaissance Care Olympic Games.

He said: “I loved cycling and hunting as a young man, so the Olympics were very good for helping me rediscover my passion for sport. I really liked the ‘putting’ and have enjoyed keeping up with my walking too. I used to walk to the lounge and back, but now I’m able to walk round the garden, and even further afield.”

“In my younger years, I had many different jobs, and have been lucky to travel a fair bit too. I was stationed in West Germany for a number of years, where my daughters Sarah and Wendy were born. I have many fond memories of my time there, but then we moved back home to Cawdor where I returned to my farming roots. I then went on to work in a distillery, where I worked with my twin brother Andrew, before becoming a lorry driver for McArthur Haulage.

“I’d been working as a lorry driver for about six years, when I was in a serious accident and hit my head badly. A passing lorry driver saved my life, if he hadn’t called the ambulance I wouldn’t be here today. I spent a whole year in hospital recovering.

“I’ve now lived at Meadowlark since 2018, and the Olympics has been the biggest hit with residents yet, and it has improved my health and fitness tenfold. I even joke with the staff that I’m training to run away from them, due to my increased mobility and confidence. That’s worth more than a gold medal if you ask me!”