Residents at a care home in Yelverton were treated to a nostalgic trip down the rabbit hole with a special Mad Hatter’s tea party.
The event, at The Red House residential care home on Tavistock Road, coincided with National Mad Hatter’s Day on October 6, and gave residents the chance to have fun and socialise while remembering and celebrating Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.
Staff at the home dressed up in character for the event, with appearances from Alice, the White Rabbit, Queen of Hearts, Cheshire Cat, Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee and the Mad Hatter himself, while the residents wore themed headbands.
Located on the edge of Dartmoor, in the village of Yelverton, Devon, The Red House is a 25-bed home, providing residential, respite and convalescence care.
The home’s conservatory was transformed into a wonderland with themed decorations, and a decadent tea party was prepared by in-house chef Mike and laid out for residents to enjoy.
Food was tailored around the story with ‘Eat Me’ and ‘Drink Me’ labels and the fully home-made spread included jam tarts, cupcakes, jelly and cream and heart shaped sandwiches, as well as a centre-piece Victoria sponge cake.
Staff re-enacted some of the quirkiest scenes from Alice in Wonderland – with Alice, played by carer Karen, sipping tea with the residents along with the Cheshire Cat, Sarah, a senior carer. Watching over the proceedings was the Queen of Hearts, domestic assistant Carole.
Resident Reg, aged 97, said: “The staff went to so much trouble to make everything look magical. My favourite costumed character was the Queen of Hearts, Carole acted the part so well and looked very stern! It was a wonderful afternoon; everyone was laughing and smiling.”
Carer Karen said: “I think I was cast as Alice as I’m the only one with long blonde hair! It was great fun, the residents had an amazing day. It was lovely to dress up and do something out of the ordinary for them.”
Chef Mike, who dressed as the Mad Hatter, complete with orange hair and a ‘We’re all mad here’ apron, performed a reading from Alice in Wonderland.
He said: “I really enjoyed reading to the residents, I’m always happy to perform. Before the pandemic we used to do a lot of events, including pantomimes, so it’s great to be doing this kind of theatrical event again.”
Gemma Trawally, manager at The Red House, who was one half of Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, along with Michelle, activities co-ordinator, said: “We had such fun at the tea party, both residents and staff, as we really are one big family. It was a lot of work decorating the home and getting everything ready but it was all worth it to see the delighted looks on the residents’ faces.
“After Mike’s reading we all had a chat about our memories of the book. Many residents had fond memories of reading it at school, reading it to their children or watching the film.
“Recalling memories is very important, particularly for those living with dementia, as often they are more likely to remember events from the past. Re-living these memories helps stimulate mental activity and boost well-being. The home was full of laughter and chatter all day!”
Following the success of this event, the home is planning to do another literary afternoon before Christmas, and residents will have the chance to vote for the book and theme.