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Memories of Pearey House – Arthur’s Story

Mrs McQueen was like an angel really.


I was born in 1960 and by the age of 3, because I was born with one eye, I was registered blind.  In first school we had a home teacher who was attached to Pearey House called Mary McQueen. She really looked after me up to 1978 when she retired but a bit beyond that.  One of my memories is they took me to Benwell Dene.  Mrs McQueen was in touch with them, and she had links with the school, so I ended up staying there, coming home at weekends and so I was always attached to Pearey House from that time through to 1972.  Then I went to Worcester but when I came home, I would always visit Pearey House.

1980 to 1984 I went to two universities and did a couple of degrees and worked in the locale until 2007.   I was losing the 12% vision that I had in the other eye so by 2010 I started to rely more on both the RNIB and Pearey House.  I got a job with HMRC and it was in that time that I started being a regular service user with Pearey House and I quite enjoyed it.  It was really good, it was like a second home really.

Photo of Pearey House Gym

The Gym Pearey House

They were doing Thai Chi and then they built up a gym. They get people from the YMCA to come in and they were really great people and they encouraged people to do stuff.   They had armchair aerobics which I used to love.  There was a group of us and it was just a really good community of togetherness.

When I went to Pearey House I always just used to sit and chat to Mrs McQueen.  Sometimes, my mam didn’t have time to take us up to Pearey House, so Mrs McQueen used to come to us.  That lovely social worker who came was great as well because she knew that I wanted to work.  I didn’t really want to do an academic career and so she put me in touch with a careers advisor and tried to make my life a bit more looking to the future instead of worrying that I wasn’t going to amount to anything.

It was a longish way to go from Percy Main but my mobility was fairly good and I had long chats with Fred.  The people who live in the flats go somewhere to have a meal once a month I believe and they have the holidays.  My mother used to go with my father, who had to look after her because she was losing her sight and he went down to Scarborough I remember.  There was a hotel also in Blackpool that was owned by the RNIB so Pearey House had links to all of that.  We still do holidays but it’s more independently.  We are going to Lincoln in March.

I am a reasonable cook but not that good, so Pearey House, since 2013 they’ve had really good cooks.  You can go there and get a really good meal.  I get meals delivered three times a week. I used to go to Pearey House every Thursday, now it’s changed to a Wednesday.  I think the way it’s done now they collect certain people from various parts of the region so it could be Wallsend one day, Whitley Bay the other.  Cramlington and I think Wideopen.  There’s no other agency that does what Pearey House does.

You pay £5 a meal which I think is really good value.  If I need anything, if there’s anything that needs reading, any help around the house, Stephen will look at something for me.  So, I just feel as though it’s gone full circle Pearey House from Mrs McQueen coming in to see if we’re alright.  She was like a home teacher, a social worker almost like a pastural worker all rolled into one.  You’ve got that now, but it’s more structured.  Helen drives most of that, the innovation and the way forward.  They have just lashed out on furniture and refloored and double-glazed the lounge area, they’ve built up the conservatory.  That’s been done by fundraising and hard work from all the staff at Pearey House.

Stephen is very keen to promote technology.  People are aware now that you can have Echoes, the Amazon Alexa.  We benefit greatly from that; it is such an innovation.  You can listen to podcasts you can ask it questions, the weather, news, anything, music.  There might be the odd subscription but it’s not bad once you have bought the thing, the sky’s the limit.  So, if people are scared or don’t want to learn how to type or to input into a computer there is a volunteer to come in.

They are opening up a new centre.  The Iris Centre, off Queen Alexandra Road.  It is still being done up I think; they inherited a house.  This is all linked to Pearey House so they have got what I would call an outreach centre and apparently you just drop in and they’re hoping to set up a little community.

They have just had a Christmas fair but it’s indoors now.  In 1970 I was coming up to 10, I was still in primary school and I went and I had to present a bouquet of flowers to the mayoress.

Mrs McQueen was really great at taking us out on fun days out in the minibus.  I think it was 1969 we went up to Bamburgh Castle.  She was absolutely brilliant just kind-hearted, she just wanted to help anybody, like an angel really.


Arthur was interviewed as part of the Pearey House 150th Anniversary project.

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