George Goucher has been living with his wife, Doreen, at Christ the King Care Home for the past two years.
Can you tell us about your life?
I was born in a town called Hockley in the centre of Birmingham. I grew up during World War II and when I was nine or ten years old, my father, aged 37, was seriously injured in a bomb raid which meant he was to then spend the next 20 years of his life in hospital.
A lot then fell on me, as I became like a second ‘husband‘/man about the house’ for my mother because she was shattered after the accident and couldn’t cope with life. I had to do everything. It was a tough life which became even tougher when our home was destroyed by a bomb as was the school where I went.
Our home was destroyed by a bomb as was the school where I went.
After living in a shelter in Birmingham, we were moved to Kidderminster where we were looked after by a beautiful couple who raised us. But money was short and, eventually, we had to return to Birmingham. My mother found a job working for a doctor, the post was live in and rent free so at last, we had a home we could settle in. That home was magical for us even though by anyone’s standards it was very basic.
I started work at the age of 14 earning 18 shillings a week (90p) for 44 hours work five and half days a week! I was training to be a radio engineer and I loved it, it was what I always wanted to do. I did an apprenticeship at Mathew Bolton college three nights a week to become a fully qualified Radio Engineer while also working part-time in a shop serving customers.
I met Doreen on a blind date organised through friends and we went to the cinema, neither of us knew what to expect on this first date! We continued to see one another and became closer and closer. My mother didn’t want me to marry and leave the family home, this caused a lot of problems until, one day, Doreen gave me an ultimatum by saying ‘it is either your Mother or me’ and I chose Doreen! I had a horrible life until I met Doreen and then I married her and I’ve had the best life ever, in fact, I owe her everything.
We saved hard and together we’ve done amazing things and had three children: Paul, aged 60 who is sadly in a home due to being involved in a car accident which left him brain damaged; Karen aged 56 who lives in Scotland and is married with two children; and youngest Christopher, aged 48, who is also happily married with two children. All three have done well with their working life so when we go we’ll leave this world having done a good thing. I’ve had a good marriage and couldn’t have wished for a better wife, we’ve pulled together and been very good together.
I met Doreen and then I married her and I’ve had the best life ever, in fact, I owe her everything.
What are your hobbies?
I’ve always been a very sporty man so I like anything to do with sport. I’ve always been a very keen cyclist, years ago a friend and I would cycle around Britain! I also enjoy nice cars and my home life.
What do you enjoy the most in the house?
I enjoy lots of things; the people, the girls that look after me and the management side because they are not ‘untouchable’ and you can book an appointment to see them when you want to. We love living in the country and it’s only 15 minutes from everywhere. The lovely gardens, it’s like a small park. There’s always lots going on if you want it, we like to be on our own because of the struggles Doreen has. Everyone, to include the activity girls, and maintenance, they are all there to talk to us if we want to.
Is there anything you would change?
They could do with more staff because it’s a bit hectic for the girls, but they treat you like you’re in your own home so it’s great, so easy and everyone is so friendly.
How is your everyday life here?
I have been blind for 20 years, I have macular degeneration and very bad glaucoma with my one eye remaining shut most of the time. I’ve had a lot of treatment but sadly nothing has made any difference to my sight and no more can be done.
But I manage extremely well with my 5% vision and am able to move around the home quite freely with help from the radiators and things along the walls. Anything black and white really helps, especially reception with its black and white squares that form the pattern on the floor. I have learnt to listen to peoples voices and learn who they are by doing that. When I wake up each morning, I have lost this 5% vision but by bathing the eye in very hot water, it returns.
Doreen has very good eyesight so I rely on her to be my ‘eyes’ and she relies on me for her ‘ears’ so we are a good couple. I’ve had other struggles during my life… I’ve had three strokes and suffered from cancer, all of which have left me a bit slow! But Doreen’s help has been tremendous and I couldn’t have done any of it without her.