Dave and Val’s care home celebration: the love story of a lifetime

Published: Tuesday 5th April 2022

Recently at Blenheim in Bournemouth, a very special care home celebration took place for two residents.

Celebrating 60 years of marriage – their diamond anniversary – Dave and Valerie had a date to remember, and the whole team helped make it possible.

We’ve said it before; our care homes are not just places to live, but places to enjoy life. When it comes to doing just this, Dave and Valerie could teach us a few things.

A care home celebration

Dave, 89, and Valerie, 81, are beloved residents of Blenheim. Knowing that their diamond anniversary was approaching, Registered Manager Tracy Jennings wanted to give them a celebration worthy of this milestone. Tracy asked the couple what their wildest wishes for the day were, and they knew exactly how they wanted to mark the occasion. The two requested a romantic dinner, and our whole team got to work.

Blenheim has spacious and stylish communal lounges, but Dave and Val’s wish called for fine dining and a three-course meal. As a result, the secluded and beautiful conservatory was transformed by Activities Coordinator Amy into a private restaurant for two.

Balloons were arranged, petals were scattered, streamers were draped from the ceiling, and even napkins were folded. All the while, Dave had secretly been setting the bar for husbands everywhere by having a hand in this arrangement from the start. Activities Coordinator, Amy, admired his devotion, saying;

You just see how much love they have for each other, Dave absolutely adores Val. They’re still so in love, sixty years later.

In preparation, Dave had let Amy know that he wanted to surprise Val with yellow roses, her favourite, which Tracy gladly sourced. When the day came, Dave presented his wife with the bouquet. Val lives with dementia, and on the day of the anniversary, Amy noted that she absolutely loved the atmosphere and was in a fantastic mood.

The romance didn’t end there, because Dave had thoughtfully prepared the music of Matt Monro and Frank Sinatra to accompany their dinner, and the couple began their date. On the menu, exactly as requested, a starter of prawn cocktails, a main course of a roast, and for dessert; ice cream and fruit. It was intimate, romantic, and the couple were utterly delighted.

It’s our privilege to make these moments special for our residents. We put people’s needs and wishes at the heart of their own care, and when it comes to special requests – we give it our all.

Dave and Val Diamond Wedding Anniversary -Blenheim

The loves of each other’s lives

Dave and Val said “I do” in 1962, and today, they’re even more in love.

Although Val lives with dementia, Dave does not, and when the time came that Val needed the support of a care team, Dave knew unquestioningly that he would move to Blenheim with her.

Their story began in the 1950’s. They met one evening at the Beacon Royal Hotel on West Cliff Road in Bournemouth, where there was an underground dancefloor and a Friday night Jazz Group. This is where Dave would meet his friends in the evenings to go dancing.

One Friday night, Dave was waiting for his friend, as usual. However, when he spotted him, there was a young woman holding his arm. It was Valerie.

“My heart flipped,” said Dave, with a chuckle. “I just said, ‘who’s your friend, Graham?’” – and that was that. Dave wasted no time in the name of love.

With apologies to his friend, Dave invited Valerie to meet him at the Arcade Ballroom in Boscombe the very next night. To this day, he recalls how eager he was.

I waited outside the ballroom… I waited and waited, and eventually thought she wasn’t coming. It was only when I looked inside that I saw that Valerie was there! She had already gone in, and was dancing!

Dave and Valerie danced the night away, and by the end of it, Dave knew what he must do.

I was so much in love with this girl, that on that Saturday I asked her to marry me! Her eyes went wide – she said ‘WHAT?’

Dave laughs heartily when he tells the story. Even though Valerie was bowled over by such a quick proposal and they didn’t marry until four years later, here they are, 60 years on, together in the same care home.

Dave, however, is not surprised. He knew it was forever from the get-go.

Once, when he had joined the Navy, he recalls how it dawned on him that Val was truly his partner for life.

I never doubted my love for Val every time I sailed away. I always knew she’d be there when I got back. You just know, and that’s how life is.

Eventually, she gave me an ultimatum, she said, ‘You’ve got to make your mind up – it’s me or the sea!’ – of course I chose her.

The rest is history.

Love means family

Bournemouth locals of many years, and decades into their love story, today Dave and Val have three daughters. Their children are very active with their parents’ care, and love to be involved wherever possible.

Dave and Val are visited by their family often, who are always in frequent communication with Registered Manager Tracy.

When this milestone anniversary came around, their daughters were naturally part of it every step of the way. They arranged a celebratory visit and gifts, and Tracy made sure they stayed in touch with pictures and videos of the event.

Seeing their parents so happy and in love, enjoying their day, they had this to say:

Oh my goodness that is beautiful, thank you so much 😍. Dad is having a wonderful time and mum looks radiant – Hilary


Thank you so much! The room looks beautiful! Thank you for all your effort in giving mum and dad a fantastic celebration. Dad particularly loved his prawn salad! – Kate

As for Dave and Val, they were on cloud nine, and we have been moved to see it. Dave gave a speech to the entire home on the day, thanking them for their efforts, and declaring again his love for Val.

 Tracy and her team were outstanding, and made it such a lovely day for us. – Dave

Find out about our care homes for yourself or your loved one

We truly put people first in every step of the way in our care, and have been proud to do so for over 35 years.

Stories such as Dave and Val’s are examples of the dedication our teams gladly give to residents, and this is true in all our homes throughout the country.

Please call us on 0808 256 6038 or visit our care homes page to find out more