40 Faces of Brendoncare – Debbie Smith

Written by: Alison Reijman Published: May 7, 2024

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To celebrate International Nurses Day  on Sunday 12th May and Brendoncare’s 40th anniversary this year, we would like to introduce you to Debbie Smith, who works at Brendoncare Otterbourne Hill. Debbie explains how she returned to Brendoncare as a nurse after beginning her career with us as a carer.

I was at college and did not know whether I would be suited to nursing. A friend who worked at Brendoncare Park Road (pictured below) in Winchester suggested that I get a Saturday job as a carer there to see how I found it.

“This was in 1981 when I was 17.  I worked in Brendoncare Park Road’s newly-built nursing wing. I loved the job so when I finished college, I applied to get full time hours there.

“Unfortunately, there were no hours available, so I was offered some domestic hours instead.

“I had a trial day. Afterwards, Sue Everitt, who ran the care home, came to check the quality of my cleaning herself and I got the job. I was then given the care assistant hours I wanted and worked in the care home’s house.


“I had to remember everyone’s individual napkins and how many prunes they each had! I loved the characters we cared for. They included the retired Dean of Herefordshire and Miss Fisher. She was a missionary in China at the same time as Gladys Aylward made famous in the film, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness.

“I ended up living in Park Road’s attic for a while when I had problems at home and Sue Everitt became very protective of me. Sue grew up in Brendon (Park Road). Her mother lived in the cottage which was attached to the care home. I will be forever grateful to my Brendoncare family for rescuing me at that time.”


Debbie’s career then took a dramatic turn thanks to her colleagues. “They persuaded me to leave to do my training as a registered nurse at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester.

“I did not really want to leave Brendoncare Park Road. However, I thought I could always return there if I did not like it at the hospital. That was in April 1984 and 34 years later, I retired from the NHS.


“At that time, I decided I wanted to get a job somewhere nearer to home and where I hoped I could concentrate more on the pastoral side of nursing. I started as a night Registered Nurse at the new Brendoncare Otterbourne Hill care home (pictured below left) that had been opened barely a year. I felt I had come home!

“It took me a while to adjust to the differences of working here after the hospital. But I was thrilled one day to meet my old friend Steph Freeman here who I had worked with at Brendoncare Park Road all those years ago.

“We enjoyed sharing the memories of colleagues and residents that we knew. Steph is one of the most dependable, experienced carers and that is a huge asset to our night team.


I still love the philosophy of Brendoncare. I am glad it has managed to retain a family feel despite growing and expanding so successfully over the years.”