How old photos of South Tyneside are making the world of difference in a care home

A South Tyneside historian is sharing his old photos with care homes – because they are such great therapy.

Norman Dunn’s atmospheric reflections on Hebburn are being offered to homes as a way of getting residents to reflect and enjoy the past.

Laminated pictures are going on show in displays. They are also available in books and the project is already proving to be a winner. The Windsor Care Home has taken up Norman’s offer and is seeing the benefits.

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The 35 residents, aged from their 70s to 94, browse through the photos during reminiscence sessions. Activities co-ordinator Margaret Hallway said: “They love going through them.

Norman Dunn's archive collection is proving to be a success in a Hebburn care home.

"We have sessions once a week and they will say ‘I remember this’. It can sometimes go back to the war, or perhaps shops and factories, and you sometimes get someone who says ‘I worked there’.

Margaret said some of the Windsor residents ‘have dementia and they may not remember now, but they remember the past and this is stimulating for them.”

Norman is no stranger to the Gazette and his fascinating works are hugely successful.

A 1960s image shared by Norman Dunn.

Also, last year, he shared 12 images taken in 1968 ‘just as Jarrow Grammar School was about to be re-classified as Springfield Comprehensive’, said Norman.

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More recently, Norman has produced four books filled with photographic history of the area.

Hebburn-born Norman has created pictorial memories – each filled with 300 photos - for everyone from expats to younger people who want to find out more about the area’s past.

Patrick's shop on Waggonway Road.
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Norman already has an online Forum message board called Hebburn and our Neighbours which is ‘a great way for anyone to learn about our local history, ask questions and get answers from me or my knowledgeable regulars’,” he said.

His latest project with care homes is a passion that Norman is loving.

He said: “It is a free service for the homes, because I think it is important the residents see the photos and not all older folk can afford a book.

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The Reyrolle family in 1915 in Aln Street, Hebburn.

“Even dementia patients can enjoy my collection as their long term memory is still there. I know that from experience .

“My Mother was in a Care Home in 2008 and I visited her every day. I heard about a man upstairs who used to constantly walk up and down the corridor, sometimes day and night in the dementia part upstairs

"I told my mam I was going to visit him and she said ‘Norman, he doesn’t know what he did five minutes ago so you’re wasting your time’.

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That didn’t put me off so I visited him. He could remember names that I’d nearly forgotten.”

Norman added: “Now I have started this I will do the same for other interested nursing homes.”

The Windsor Care Home has copies of Norman’s books available to buy for £15.

North Lodge and coachman's house in 1907.
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