Whilst most Salopians spend their Thursday afternoons playing sport or enjoying some other recreational activity, a small group of lower sixth formers religiously visit the local residential homes. Oscar Arrowsmith, Jack Ahmed, Chris Pearce and I go to Swan Hill, a care home for the elderly located 5 minutes away, on the street opposite Shrewsbury High School.
Though some would find this option fairly unusual and wouldn’t expect lower sixth form students to choose to utilise their time in this way, it has turned out to be one of the best decisions I have made at Shrewsbury School as without these visits, I would never have met Margaret Jarvis.
A usual trip to Swan Hill will last up to two hours. I start my visit by greeting the other residents within the home, and quickly find out what they have been up to that week. I then check that there is nothing that can be done back in the kitchen and make sure all the residents have got their cups of tea or coffee, before proceeding to spend the remaining hour and 55 minutes with Margaret, either outside in the garden or in her room. Conversations with Margaret are easy to settle into; we discuss anything from the hot topics of what gossip has occurred within Swan Hill, to nostalgic anecdotes. Time seems to go increasingly quickly during these conversations as Margaret never fails to have an entertaining story - our chats often end up with me in fits of laughter. I even forget that I am not just talking to one of the girls back in Emma Darwin!
Despite Margaret’s grand age of 97, her alertness and kindness never cease to impress me. The atmosphere within Swan Hill must be depressing at times, but her consistent positive attitude inspires me. She never lacks a smile on her face and rarely has a bad thing to say about anything or anyone. Margaret has introduced a completely new outlook on life for me, and I see her as a true inspiration. I truly feel privileged to have been able to get to know her and would encourage anybody to take up Community Service in the lower sixth - although it may initially feel like the less exciting option, you may just be lucky enough to get to know someone just like Margaret.
Emma Pring (L6 EDH)