Dorothy Creelman, Charters Village

Dorothy Creelman, resident

Charters resident says she has an excellent social life in the community.

For 82 year old Charters Village resident Dorothy Creelman, every day can feel like a holiday.

“I participate in an enormous range of social events and activities, which keeps me active and helps me live each day to the fullest in my retirement,” she explains.

In fact, Dorothy is extremely proactive when it comes to her social life and has become something of an event planner at Charters, which the other residents truly appreciate.

Since moving to the community in 2014, she has organised well-attended curry evenings, coffee mornings, speakers and entertainers. The most recent of these was a harpist, who charmed Charters’ residents with a wonderful performance.

Dorothy arranges or attends trips out of the village too. In the past these have included a ride on the Bluebell Railway; a heritage line that operates steam trains and runs 11 miles along the border between East and West Sussex.

One Christmas, Dorothy and a group of other Charters residents booked a coach to Brighton to see the ice skating show ‘Holiday on Ice’. Most recently, Dorothy and her closest friends took a trip on the famous Flying Scotsman. They also lunch regularly at some of the excellent pubs and restaurants in the local area.

However, Dorothy is keen to emphasise that life at Charters isn’t all ‘busy busy’: “I enjoy relaxing in my beautiful apartment and taking daily walks around the beautiful grounds. We also have a new bar here, which we frequent for the occasional glass of wine. What’s great about the bar is that it is just downstairs, we don’t have to worry about designating a driver!”

Dorothy, whose maiden name is Fraser, has an interesting story. She was born in Burma in 1935, where her father was an engineer until the outbreak of World War II. When the Japanese invaded the country in 1942, the Frasers found themselves trapped.

The family tried to escape on foot through the jungles but they were too late, the Japanese had already occupied the areas they needed to cross, so they had to abandon this attempt.

“My mother and I were lucky, managing to get away on an RAF cargo plane,” she explained. “But my father stayed behind with the other engineers to blow up industrial installations before the Japanese could put them to use. They were given army uniforms so they could pretend they were soldiers if caught in order to avoid a firing squad!”

Eventually Dorothy’s father escaped on an old barge and sailed it to Calcutta, surprising his wife and daughter by showing up on their doorstep in Pawpindi, Punjab, India six months later!

Dorothy met her late husband Clive at a party in London when she was 23 and they were married six months later. They lived together near Camberley, but after having three children they moved to a bigger house in East Grinstead. “Clive was a shipping executive and I was a district nurse, we were very happy,” she said.

Eventually the children grew up but remained in the area and Dorothy has two grandchildren now!

Sadly though, Clive developed Alzheimer’s and became very poorly. Two of the couple’s children came across Charters Village and suggested they have a look round, which they did.

Dorothy commented: “We loved Charters, it felt safe and secure plus all the staff and other residents were lovely. We bought a one-bedroom apartment in Charters Towers, the country-club style development within the village, and moved in.”

They were just in time. Unfortunately Clive’s condition worsened and he spent time in Charters Court Care Home, an integral part of Charters Village, before passing away peacefully in December 2014.

“It was very sad but I am glad we made the move to Charters when we did as the staff in the care home were wonderful,” said Dorothy. “They were very supportive and I am sure Clive was comfortable in his final days. For this I truly thank them. Charters Court is just a short walk from the apartment too, so it was good to be close to him.”

This was a difficult period for Dorothy but life goes on. She now enjoys an independent and fulfilling retirement at Charters Village, making use of its living assistance services such as property cleaning and maintenance so she can focus on what she wants to do.