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'I've got to 94 and I've had one day of fame' care home fulfils residents life long dream

PUBLISHED: 12:42 11 April 2019

Nora Velzian Burt with granddaughter Sharon, great-granddaughters Beth and Ellie and great-great-grandson Ezra.  Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Nora Velzian Burt with granddaughter Sharon, great-granddaughters Beth and Ellie and great-great-grandson Ezra. Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Rachel Edge

A care home resident’s lifelong ambition of being recognised as a poet has been met after staff published her work as a book.

Care home resident Nora Velzian Burt celebrating her book publishing by cutting her cake. Picture: RACHEL EDGECare home resident Nora Velzian Burt celebrating her book publishing by cutting her cake. Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Nora Velzian Burt, 94, has been lighting up the lives of residents and staff of The Willows care home in Ipswich for years, reciting more than 60 years worth of poetry by memory to pass the time.

It was because of the smiles her poems brought residents that care home manager Kelvin Freeland and his staff decided to publish her poems as a hardback book and to celebrate with a surprise party for family and friends.

Her work, which began after an Ipswich Star poetry appeal for an animal charity, includes poetry about her late sister, her former dog Katy and her life at the home, where she said every day made her smile.

“I’ve got to 94 and I’ve had one day of fame,” she laughed as Ipswich mayor Jane Riley entered the packed common room.

94-year-old Nora Velzian Burt received her book at her care home in Ipswich from the Mayor.

Picture: RACHEL EDGE94-year-old Nora Velzian Burt received her book at her care home in Ipswich from the Mayor. Picture: RACHEL EDGE

At first, Nora admitted she thought she had done something wrong, but said she was delighted with the surprise: “It is absolutely wonderful and I cannot thank you all enough,” she said.

“To me, this has been a terrific lift for an old lady, if you like. People paint, people play piano - it is just a talent you think you’ve got.”

After writing a poem for the home, she said: “I thought perhaps I have got talent, perhaps they’re not a load of rubbish, then everyone else here has said they love them.”

When asked her secret about what makes a good poem, Nora said: “I think it is really only playing around with words, I mean it works for me.

94-year-old Nora Velzian Burt received her book at her care home in Ipswich from the Mayor. Picture: RACHEL EDGE94-year-old Nora Velzian Burt received her book at her care home in Ipswich from the Mayor. Picture: RACHEL EDGE

“I’ve not written a single poem, other than the one for Kelvin, that doesn’t have a story in front of it.”

Sadly, an eye condition has stopped Nora from writing further poems but with her photographic memory she’ll always be a wordsmith.

Great grand-daughter Beth Saxby said: “It is wonderful. I can remember all my life she’s been telling me these poems, for years and years.

“When we were young and we used to go on holiday, it is all we used to get told was her poems.”

Manager Kelvin, who has her poetry on a T-shirt, said: “It was the fact she said she never had the chance to put them on paper that made us put them in a book for her.

“We’re here primarily to care, but we don’t want to be known as a care home, we want to be known for going that extra mile for our residents.”

After enjoying a slice of cake and a chat with Nora, mayor Jane Riley accompanied her to the home’s tuck shop, saying: “It is amazing hearing her recite her poems all from memory.

“I understand the book is going to go to other homes as well, so hopefully that might prompt people to share their favourite poems or write their own poems, perhaps.”

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