The Big Interview: Grantham couple Richard and Eileen are the ultimate good neighbours

Super Seniors Eileen and Richard Kelham
Super Seniors Eileen and Richard Kelham

Next in our Q&A series featuring winners of the Journal’s 2015 Grantham is Great Awards are Richard and Eileen Kelham.

We had so many nominations for the couple to be named Super Seniors at the Grantham is Great Awards, and that’s not surprising given that the couple are at the very heart of the community of 51 bungalows on Sandon Close. In nominating the pair for the award, one grateful resident said: “They work relentlessly to improve the lives and surroundings for the people of Sandon Close, and will go out of their way to help anyone – always.” We visited them after their win to find out more about the wonderful work they do to help out their neighbours.

**What are some of the ways in which you help your fellow Sandon Close residents?

Eileen: We have coffee mornings, and the money from those go towards paying for the residents’ Christmas party, which is held in the community hall. We also do games nights and bingo on alternate Wednesdays. A lot of the residents are in their 80s and 90s, and they just want to get out.

Richard: I help walk some of the eldest residents home. And I oversee the community garden, getting bulbs and plants in ready for the spring. Those that come up on the bus always praise the gardens.

Eileen: Yes, we like to keep the gardens looking nice. We get the residents involved in that too, and help out doing hanging baskets and weeding. It’s surprising how many people do say how nice it looks around here in the spring and summer. We were able to alter the area outside after contacting the council and asking if we could take it over. They said yes, and have been great about it.

**What do you get back from doing this community work?

Eileen: Enjoyment and satisfaction. And it takes your mind off your own illnesses. I’m battling cancer at the moment, of the stomach. But I’m still carrying on. Doing this helps me. Everybody around here has got an illness or an ailment of some sort or another, but we all look out for each other.

Richard: Just thinking that we can help other people, that’s the main thing. I’ve got a leg problem and have had four operations on it so far. But we keep going on, and we want to.

**What did you do for last year’s Christmas party?

Eileen: We had St Mary’s School come up, and the choir sang to us. They now do this every year, because we like to involve them. And at the coffee mornings we’ve had pupils from Sandon School come up too. It’s nice to get them all involved in the community. When it was the Olympics we asked pupils to create the five rings. We have a very good relationship with the schools.

**What would you say to others thinking of helping out like you do?

Eileen: Get involved. It’s no good just shutting yourselves away in the four walls – you’ve got to get out and do something to get people together.

Richard: Even doing little things, it all counts. We don’t ask people to do a lot. Up here, even people who can’t help physically, they will contribute towards the cost of bulbs and things, or take part in raffles. We also try to have a table top sale once a year, and this year we’re looking to mark the Queen’s birthday.

Eileen: We normally have a summer tea party. We try to keep things going all year.

**How do you feel about those who nominated you?

Eileen: Wonderful. They tell us that they appreciate our help, but of course it’s nice that they have shown their appreciation in this way. It’s extra special.

Richard: We know that they appreciate it, as they always thank us, but we never expected something like this. We don’t do it for the awards, but the satisfaction of helping others.