Ashridge Court Care Centre


Beryl the Bard of Bexhill goes home

Beryl Billenness, aka the Bard of Bexhill, has returned to her seafront home after three happy months with us at Ashridge.

Having been hospitalized with severe dehydration over the summer, Beryl came here for some respite care and general R&R.

“I’m feeling so much better now,” says the 89-year-old poet who’s happy to sing the praises of her carers.  “Staff are absolutely beautiful!”

Beryl decorated her room here at Ashridge with pictures of her family – husband Kenneth, to whom she was married for 63 years, children Stephanie, Lesley and Richard, and her grandchildren.

She met Kenneth when she was 16. “He liked my flaming red hair and asked a friend to get him a date with me,” she laughs. “On our first date we went for a walk. I’d intended to dress up but he met me unexpectedly outside the hospital where I worked as a domestic, so I couldn’t change my clothes!” It clearly didn’t matter because the couple married when Kenneth returned from a two-year posting with the military police in Egypt.

Over the years, Beryl captured many episodes of her life – highs, lows, trials and tribulations – in verse, aided and abetted by her dry sense of humour, keen eye for detail and talent with the written word. Her work is very reminiscent of well-loved poet, comedienne and national treasure Pam Ayres. One of her most prized possessions is the anthology of her own verse, modestly entitled Observations of Just a Housewife. So, has she written any poems at Ashridge?

“I lost my underwear and wrote a note to staff, in verse, asking them to look out for it,” she confesses. “Poetry can deal with just about any subject!”

Beryl has made many friends at Ashridge and will be missed. We hope that she will visit us from time to time and share her new poems.