Despite being founded 34 years ago and only a stone's throw from the heart of the town many will not have heard of “Whittlesey's best kept secret” - an award-winning, family-run rest home for the elderly called The Hermitage.
In its previous guise the beautiful Georgian-style building was a vicarage but it is now known as 'home' for 24 elderly residents who are looked after 24 hours per day by a dedicated team of highly-trained professionals referred to by the residents as “our ladies in white”. Such a warm and comfortable sense of belonging is returned to those who have perhaps lost the capability of caring for themselves and with such a lively group there’s always some form of activity to get involved with...even if it’s as simple as enjoying a cup of tea and watching TV in one of the two communal living areas!
It all began in the early 80's whilst local businessman Peter Thory was looking for suitable accommodation for his grandmother. She was being poorly cared for in an alternative home so Mr Thory sought the assistance of care professional Mrs Rita Smith (nee Rawlings) to help set up a rest home in the former vicarage he owned in Whittlesey. After extensive renovation The Hermitage was born with an original capacity of 10 before an extension in 1995 saw this increase to 24.
The Hermitage continues to be in safe hands. Mr Thory's daughters Gay together with Mrs Smiths daughters Judy and Paula maintain family values with Judy and Gay's own daughters Emma and Harriet following in their footsteps as the third generation.
Evening Telegraph - Saturday March 6th 1982
New Home for Old
A Residential rest home for the elderly will be open soon close to the town centre. Ten elderly residents will shortly be moving into The Hermitage, 10 St Mary's Street, Whittlesey just off the main shopping street under the care of Mrs Rita Rawlings and her 18 year old daughter Paula. The idea for the home came from its owner Peter Thory who wanted a suitable home accomodation for his grandmother. The Hermitage is a roomy house which had been empty for many years and a lot of work to convert it had to be done. Mrs Rawlings who had three years experience in working with elderly people, with her daughter and will live there and there will be a 24-hour alarm system for the residents. Mrs Rawlings expects several residents will be long stay while their families take holidays. Most of the residents will be expected to get up everyday to enjoy ther meals in the residents dining room. A doctor will call at the home regularly as well as district nurses, chiropodists and a hair dresser.
A very large kitchen has been built and a cook and domestic staff will be able to ofer a variety of meals and cater for special diets. The house has a spacious sitting room. There are single and double rooms. Special bathrooms have been built and hand baisins fitted into all bedrooms. Mrs Rawlings has received several enquiries and is confident the home will soon be full. "If anyone in Whittlesey who has an elderly relative who needs special care I will be happy to help them", she said. The home is fully licensed by county authorities.