Blind War Veteran, 95, Who Wants To Go Home Prepares For Next Battle

Elderley man looks out window

This is a story that has just broke cover form the Brian Farmer at the Press Association, and it served as a reminder of just how powerful the motivation to be home can be.

We don’t know enough about the facts to make any comment on the rights and wrongs of the case, but the veteran’s drive to be at home says volumes about the human need for a place called home.

A blind 97-year-old Second World War veteran who wants to leave a care facility and go home is preparing for the next stage of a legal battle.

The widower, a former Royal Navy gunner who served in the Italian and north African theatres during the 1940s, has already lost two rounds of his fight.

A High Court judge refused to allow the pensioner to go home for Christmas until all evidence and care options had been analysed.

Mr Justice Hayden, who has overseen a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London, raised concerns about the state of the pensioner’s home and about the day-to-day care he would receive at home.

A Court of Appeal judge refused to overturn that ruling.

Lord Justice Baker, who has overseen a hearing in the Court of Appeal in London, said Mr Justice Hayden’s decision had been fair.

Mr Justice Hayden is now due to oversee a trial on January 16 with the pensioner being represented by two lawyers.

Barrister Parishil Patel QC and solicitor Laura Hobey-Hamsher, who works for law firm Bindmans, have agreed to work for free.

They say the veteran has the mental capacity to make his own decisions about where he lives and should be free to choose.

Lawyers representing council social services bosses who have welfare responsibility for the pensioner had asked a judge to make a decision.

Social services bosses agree with arguments put forward by the pensioner’s lawyers.

Barrister Katie Scott, who is leading the council’s legal team, has also argued the pensioner is capable of making his own decisions.

She has told judges that council staff have safety concerns and says a return home might not be wise.

But she says the pensioner has the right to make “unwise” decisions. She says the pensioner can, and will, call for help when at home if he needs it.

The pensioner gave evidence over the telephone at a High Court hearing overseen by Mr Justice Hayden in early December.

He told Mr Justice Hayden he was unhappy at the care facility and wanted to end his life at home.

The pensioner said he was strong enough to look after himself and would get help from a relative.

“I am a veteran and I am due the respect of a veteran who wants to end his life in his home,” he said. “I did six years in the navy during the war. I think I deserve some respect at my age.”

The judge said it had been a privilege to speak to the pensioner.

“I know he is very eager to go home,” said the judge.

“And I don’t discount the possibility that that may ultimately be my decision.

“But I know at the moment, and in the present circumstances, it would be entirely wrong.”

– Judges have ruled the pensioner cannot be identified in media reports. They also say the council involved could not be named because that information might create a jigsaw which would reveal the pensioner’s identity.

Ask An Expert: Why Is My Toddler More Interested In The Christmas Packaging?

A psychologist tells Lisa Salmon why children often like the box more than the toy.

My two-year-old son plays with the Christmas boxes and wrapping paper more than his presents. Why does he love the packaging so much?

Dr Shona Goodall, a clinical psychologist at Sheffield Children’s Hospital who has appeared on Channel 4’s Secret Life of 4 Year Olds, says: “Many of us have spent a small fortune on Christmas presents only for our toddlers to seemingly push them aside in favour of the cardboard boxes or wrapping. But Christmas packaging has more benefits for children than you might realise.

“Children of this age tend to take a great deal of interest in packaging at Christmas because removing it is often the first thing we encourage them to do. The sensory sound of the ripping noise is a quick win for them to master – it improves their hand-eye coordination and strengthens their finger pincer grip.

Childe in Christmas box

“Free (but safely supervised) play with packaging therefore offers a blank canvas to explore what they can do with the paper and boxes at their developmental stage and get creative and learn, without fear of getting it wrong.

“Playing with packaging can have other beneficial effects on their development too – it can help your son instigate positive behaviours like recycling.

“Young children love to copy at this age – you might have noticed your son will often look at you right before he’s about to do something. Caregivers attune to their child’s responses and assist them to make sense of the world, and research has shown praise will positively reinforce them to do it again.

Child in cardboard box

“By encouraging the behaviour you want to see more of, such as putting something in the bin or recycling, you can lay a fantastic foundation upon which to teach him about sustainability. That’s your chance to chat through some of the materials being played with to educate him about where they come from and where they could go next.

“So, playing with packaging will not only aid your son’s development, but also sow the seeds for him to learn all about recycling and sustainability for both your children and future generations”

For more on cardboard packaging, visit Beyond the Box

Dr Shona Goodall
Dr Shona Goodall - Interveiwed by Lisa Salmon, Press Association

How To Make Your Own Christmas Wreath Using Succulents

Follow this step-by-step guide to creating a door wreath using on point succulent plants, which will last into the New Year.

DIY Christmas wreath succulents

If you want to go chic on the Christmas wreath front this year, consider succulents – they’ll last through the festive season and may even transfer to your garden later on.

Living wreaths give a great natural look indoors and out, but you’ll need different plants for different places – so indoors, you can experiment with echeveria and haworthia, while for an outdoor wreath, you can use succulent alpine plants such as sedum or sempervivum.

DIY Christmas wreath succulents

Here, Claire Bishop, plants buyer at Dobbies Garden Centres (dobbies.com) offers this step-by-step guide to creating your own natural succulent door wreath for Christmas…

What you need to get started: 12 succulent alpine plants, like sedum or sempervivum (house leeks), selecting small plants in 5cm or 9cm pot sizes; moss, an oasis ring, florists wire, wire cutters and pins.

DIY Christmas wreath succulents

1. Cover your oasis ring

Soak your moss in water and use it to cover the oasis ring completely

DIY Christmas wreath succulents

2. Position your plants

Place the plants one by one into the oasis ring, securing with pins as you go

DIY Christmas wreath succulents

3. Secure the wreath

To make your wreath extra secure, wrap florists wire around it to reduce any movement.

DIY Christmas wreath succulents

4. Complete the look

Add some finishing touches to fill any gaps – pine cones or red berries are great for adding a festive touch.

DIY Christmas wreath succulents

Living wreaths are perfect for indoors or out, but the type of plants used will depend on where you are ultimately going to display it.

“For an indoor wreath, succulents are the perfect choice as they love a drier climate and are very low maintenance,” says Bishop.

“They have become one of the most popular indoor houseplants due to their stand-out style, with Instagram feeds and Pinterest boards awash with cool cacti displays and trendy terrariums. This take on the wreath gives the succulent a new lease of life for the festive season.

DIY Christmas wreath succulents

“When it comes to choosing the right ones, in general, the greenest succulents will fare the best indoors. Succulents thrive in as much light as possible, so displaying your wreath in view of a window is ideal.”

If you are making a wreath for your door to greet guests, choose small plants in 5cm or 9cm pot sizes and try alternating the types of plants for maximum visual impact.

She continues: “If you’ve opted for an indoor wreath using succulents, make sure it looks its best by watering it once a week. You can do this by soaking your oasis ring in water and using a misting spray if required.

“For outdoor alpines, depending on position, mist if and when required to keep plants looking fresh.”

6 Alternative Christmas Trees For Small Spaces

alternative Christmas trees

Hannah Stephenson shares some dinky options for space-starved homes - or anyone who can't face the faff of a full-size tree.

Bit short of space? Can’t fit a big Christmas tree into your home, but still want something natural-looking to replace it?

Well, good news. There are wall hangings, houseplants and smaller potted trees that’ll do the job nicely and bring some festive sparkle into your home, even if you live in the smallest space with just a little walk-round room.

So, what are the options?

alternative Christmas trees

1. Nordic Rope Ladder Hanging Christmas Tree, £20, notonthehighstreet.com

A minimalist yet rustic alternative to the classic Christmas tree, this hanging tree is only 80cm tall and can be tucked up neatly against a wall. Add baubles of your choice and drape it with fairy lights to bring it to life. A great choice for those with very tight space to work with, anyone who can’t ‘cope’ with pine needles – or to decorate other areas of the home.

The wooden slats are rounded natural twigs from the bayur tree, making all of these unique.

alternative Christmas trees

2. Mini Letterbox Christmas Tree, from £32, BloomAndWild.com

A survey commissioned by Bloom & Wild found that people are downsizing their trees in a bid to cut down on costs and needle dropping – with 79% of those quizzed saying they’re opting for a smaller tree this year, while 65% of millennials will be buying a cheaper option, without sacrificing the ‘Instagram-worthy’ tradition of buying one completely.

Their mini letterbox trees, which are real and rooted, arrive with decorations, lights and a pop-up pot in a letterbox-fitting box, and can be planted in the garden after Christmas.

alternative Christmas trees

3. Mini Christmas Tree Trio, £25, Marks and Spencer

If you only have space to spare on your windowsill, this trio of frosted mini trees, in winter embossed tin containers, would make a classy edition. You’ll ideally need to place them in a cool position with some natural light and, while they’re fine kept indoors for a few weeks, after that you’ll need to move them outdoors if you want them to survive, and plant them either in a patio container or the garden. Once you’ve done that, they should continue to thrive (you’ll want to make sure the compost never totally dries out but don’t let the tree get waterlogged either, and adding some plant food to their water between late spring and early autumn is advised).

alternative Christmas trees

4. Houseplants (Luxury Basket £30), Wyevale Garden Centres

Who says it has to be a Christmas tree? There are other ways to bring some festive greenery into the home, including houseplants. If you have the space, consider gathering some houseplants together, with some white specimens, such as orchids and lilies, to create a ‘frosted’ look. You could also go for a red and green arrangement to give a room a traditional festive feel, and go as big or small as you like.

alternative Christmas trees

5. Plant Terrarium, £66.99, crocus.co.uk

Terrariums have become the must-have addition to living areas, and if you haven’t the space for a tree then you could consider planting a feast of festive plants in one of these glass enclosures instead, which should keep going beyond New Year.

Once you’ve had enough of them, you can easily change the style by swapping in new plants next year. This one’s produced from sheet glass and brass, with an antique bronze finish.

alternative Christmas trees

6. Pot-grown Tree, from £20, Wyevale Garden Centres

Eco-friendly gardeners may prefer a smaller version of the traditional Christmas tree. They can look superb – and this one is pot-grown, so can be planted in the garden afterwards.

Want a Stylish Christmas Tree this year? These 3 Decorating Trends are Gorgeous and Easy!

Christmas decorating trends 2019

Choose between frosty, copper or emerald, says Gabrielle Fagan. A Christmas tree is the star of the celebrations, but choosing a style can be as tricky as untangling the tinsel.

But this year, banish seasonal stress by taking inspiration from these three decor themes – frosty, copper or emerald. Then add the bells and baubles, sit back and wait for the compliments.

“A Christmas tree is such a seasonal statement and nowadays isn’t just for friends and family as its style is often shared on social media, so we all want it look as beautiful and stylish as possible,” says Lee Jackson, Christmas stylist and designer for Dobbies garden centres.

Christmas decorating trends 2019

“The main influence on tree trends over the last few years can be summed up in one word – ‘craft’. The huge resurgence in activities such as needlepoint, felting, paper crafts, hand-stitching and crochet are reflected in the styles as well as the materials – from wool and wood to felt – used for tree decorations, giving them a lovely personal hand-crafted feel.

“The other influence is the Japanese craze, Kawaii, which means unashamedly cute, and that’s played a part in the popularity of cutesy woodland animals dancing across tree branches.

“Squirrels, deer, hedgehogs, stags and even mythical creatures like unicorns are all having their moment this year in the seasonal limelight.”

Christmas decorating trends 2019

Let it snow…….

“Our Snowy Forest tree trend uses lots of silver tones and snow-tipped animals to bring a midwinter landscape to life,” says Jackson of the Dobbies offering.

“A traditional colour-combo of red and white is classic, but this interpretation is fresh but simple and conjures a stylishly serene, icy winter wonderland.”

Its Enchanted Garden theme, inspired by foliage and flowers, is a little more rustic. It features a selection of wooden and fabric decorations, featuring animals and birds, starting from £2.99 each.

Christmas decorating trends 2019

STYLE TIP Create your own ‘snow storm’ with Artificial Snow, 100g bag, £2, from Hobbycraft. Simply spread glue where you want the snow to stick – on baubles and present wrapping – and sprinkle on. Follow the white and red colour theme when gift-wrapping parcels displayed under the tree and go all out with beautiful red and white ribbon and gorgeous gift tags.

Christmas decorating trends 2019

Conjure a copper glow

“Our amber story – inspired by the golden tones of autumnal forests – is my absolute favourite,” said Fionnuala Johnston, senior designer, John Lewis.

“This colour theme has natural layers of beautiful tones from amber through to rich chestnut. This beautiful rustic environment full of wildlife has a cosy and warm feel, making me want to snuggle up with fur throws and mulled wine after a long walk.”

STYLE TIP Amber tones are in tune with the fashion for metallics, especially burnished copper, which adds lustre to any scheme. Shine a light with a Copper Tea Light House, £7.99, Lights4Fun and a Wired Copper Light Garland, £25, Cox & Cox. Add to the party atmosphere with a Party Fan Set (3), in copper and gold effects, £2.99, in store, Homesense.

Christmas decorating trends 2019

Go green…

“This pays a nod to the sensory haven of a tropical rain forest and the Emerald collection incorporates clear glass, feathers and tropical leaves to create a lush, luxe Christmas setting,” says Dan Cooper, Christmas buyer, John Lewis.

“Inspired by nature, these decorations feature toucans, dragonflies, snails and parrots, with succulents and moss as well, to create an enchanting festive wonderland.

“A favourite is the Banana Leaf hanger, a glass decoration shaped as an on-trend monstera leaf in a vivid green hue.”

Christmas decorating trends 2019

STYLE TIP Work stems of faux foliage into a tree to make it look fuller. Dress a mantel with a green garland: Real Christmas Garland, White & Silver, £65, John Lewis. Ramp up the luxe by treating a sofa to velvet cushions in shades of green: Plain Velvet Cushion, in Dark Spruce or Ivy, £25, John Lewis.

Christmas decorating trends 2019