Carers that became family

HAPPIER TIMES: Geraldine Plunkett, left, with Sid and Margaret Braithwaite.
HAPPIER TIMES: Geraldine Plunkett, left, with Sid and Margaret Braithwaite.
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RELATIONS today spoke of their disgust about Donna Claire having to close.

Raymond and Irene Barwick, of Lambton, have been using the holiday home for the last 18 years.

Irene, 63, who has multiple sclerosis, spends 10 weeks a year there, giving her husband a much-needed break from caring for her.

She said: “I’m devastated and can’t believe it’s happening.

“I love everybody who looked after me, they were all so lovely.

“They have been very kind to me and Geraldine has looked after me so well, she’s been like a mother to me.

“I’m very grateful and I don’t think I can ever explain what they mean to me.”

Raymond, 64, added: “I don’t think you can put into words what has happened, they’re all like our family.”

Joan Buck’s daughter, Joanne, has visited the respite home for more than 10 years.

The 57-year-old, of Portland Avenue, Seaham, said: “Joanne has gone there for a long time and it’s done wonders for her visiting a place like this.

“While she was there I could rest and know she was safe and well looked after there.

“She loved it and was always so happy, it will definitely be a big miss and it’s difficult for us to find somewhere like that.

“It takes time to build up that trust and the relationships and now we have to start from scratch.”

Joanne Buck, 33, who suffers from cerebral palsy, spends eight weeks a year at Donna Claire, providing a break for both her and her mum, who is Joanne’s full-time carer.

“It’s absolutely disgusting that this has been allowed to happen,” Joan said.

Sid Braithwaite, 68, has spent the last 45 years caring for his wife Margaret, 66, after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

The only break he gets from caring for her is when she spends time at Donna Claire.

Sid, of East Herrington, said: “I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet.

“It’s awful when you think of all the people that used to go there from all over the place. It’s really sad.

“Margaret has had 14 happy years there though and we’re very grateful for that, we’d like to thank everyone at Donna Claire for everything they have done.”