A CARE home in Minehead has been thanked for looking after a "unique and perfect" woman before her death last year.

Claire Pearse, who was described by her four daughters - Susan, Caroline, Alison and Jane - as "courageous and ahead of her time, elegant but down to earth, regal yet never afraid to be ridiculous", died on October 1 2020, after a stay at Blenheim Lodge in Minehead.

Somerset County Gazette: Claire Pearse

Her daughter, Jane Bradshaw, has expressed her appreciation for the care her mother received at the home.

Mrs Pearse was born in Minehead in 1935, but grew up in Bristol. She had many different jobs, from bus conductor to working in Horsham hospital, and had an "endless enthusiasm and appetite for life".

Somerset County Gazette: Claire Pearse

Always admiring West Somerset, Mrs Pearse moved to Watchet in her 60s and then moved back to Minehead later on in her life. She spent her days being involved in the community, becoming a bridge player and singing.

Towards the end of her life, Mrs Pearse was diagnosed with Parkinsons and so she started to look around for care homes she liked.

"She had always heard good things of Blenheim Lodge, and whilst we took her to see various care homes, this was the one she felt she could call home," said Ms Bradshaw.

"Mum moved in to her new home in January 2018. The move was more shocking for us than for her. The carers gave us all a warm welcome, encouraged us to bring as much furniture as would make things nice and homely.

"There was never a frown or tut, just a feeling of love and warmth for us looking after our Mum and for Mum moving to her new home.

"Mum found friends there, not just with other residents, but with the carers, manager, and gardener too. We visited often and felt equally at home. Such down to earth, loving, caring people.

"We have no regrets but huge appreciation for what Blenheim offers – pre and post pandemic. We would have no hesitation and quite the opposite when it comes to deciding on a place to live when you need care.

"You couldn't ask for more for your loved ones, or for yourself.

"Caroline, who lives locally, loved to take Mum out every Wednesday for lunch in Minehead, Porlock, Wheddon Cross and other lovely places in Somerset and spending special times together. 

"We all visited as often as we could, and it was always a pleasure to arrive at Blenheim Lodge.

"Claire was a central figure in our family and that extended to Blenheim Lodge in her last precious years."

Ms Bradshaw used to visit her mum every five weeks (as she lived far away) and stay all weekend. They would take trips to the pub, takes walks in the park - Ms Bradshaw never felt like they had "left" her mum at the home, she had just moved house.

Somerset County Gazette: Claire Pearse

Monika Moore, manager of Blenheim Lodge, said it was hard to say goodbye to such a "special person".

"Claire was a person of a kind heart and it was a great privilege to be part of her life," she added.

"Her heroism in staying as independent as possible and optimism inspired not only us, key workers of Blenheim Lodge, but other residents as well.

"Claire was a wonderful mother and grandmother. She loved celebrating every success of her daughters and grandchildren, and was so proud of all of them.

"Always happy to have a good conversation, very much concerned of her dearest friends living in Blenheim Lodge and outside of our home.

"It was hard for all of us to say good bye to such a special person and her family members as well who were like friends to us.

"Here at Blenheim Lodge, our dedicated team works tirelessly to ensure all our residents receive exceptional, tailored care in homely surroundings, whatever their personal requirements.

"Our aim is always to deliver expert care to our residents, aligned with our core value that every person has the right to a high-quality service, also in such a difficult time we live in.

"Our committed staff are here to support not only residents but their families as well.

"The unprecedented times we all find ourselves in brings us closer together and further realise the importance of supporting those most vulnerable in our community."