Stepney care home’s former air hostess, 88, reveals all for Storytelling Week

Elisabeth Whittaker, 88, former Air France hostess

Elisabeth Whittaker, 88, former Air France hostess - Credit: Sanctuary Care

Pensioners in a care home in London’s East End have been sharing their memories and life stories to be recorded for future generations for a national awareness campaign.

The residents at Stepney’s Hawthorn Green residential and nursing home have been sharing their stories of adventures and proud moments of their lives for National Storytelling Week which runs until Saturday.

One pensioner is French-born Elisabeth Whittaker, now 88, a former school teacher who transformed her career to become an Air France stewardess in the 1960s and travelled the world.

“I couldn’t wait to share my life story,” she said. “I had so much to say.

“I feel lucky to have taken the steps in my life. I’m mainly focused on my jet-setting stories, where I met lots of famous faces and scarily had a near miss in an aeroplane.”


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The care home residents have turned the clock back to the earliest days they can remember to pen their stories with memories of school, family and careers.

They included Ronald Ballard, now 81, who spent a career in Fleet Street for the Daily Mirror on production back in the 1960s and 70s.

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He recalled: “I had a good job, had a good laugh and there were no real bad days, so I can’t complain!”

Ronald played trombone in later years for the British Legion Band.

The home’s activities leader, Joan Coker, said: “Rarely do our residents get the chance to sit down and tell their life story to a listening audience. National Storytelling Week has given them that opportunity.”

Hawthorn Green home in Redmans Road, Stepney Green, run by Sanctuary Care, provides residential, nursing, intermediate, respite, day care and dementia care to the elderly, many of whom have lived in the East End most of their lives.

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