Showing posts with label Castle Comfort Centre. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Castle Comfort Centre. Show all posts

Monday, 28 March 2016

Happy Easter at Marks and Spencer

It was a Happy Easter for a lot of the customers that met us recently, not at our Bank House showroom as you might expect, but at Marks and Spencers on the Wolstanton Retail Park.  We had had such a successful time in terms of helping people with getting new ferrules on their walking sticks before Christmas, that we repeated the exercise to make sure everyone with a stick had a safe and secure end to their walking aid, and if it wasn't, then we fitted a new one for free. 

When we set up an earlier charity ferrule change with M and S for their Christmas shopping event, we raised a lot of money and also helped to raise awareness by publicising the Approach charity which helps the elderly in North Staffordshire.  This Easter we raised several hundred pounds again in our time there, which will go to the charity.

We also appeared in the Sentinel Newspaper which helped to highlight the good work, and would remind those lucky people that had entered their name for the Easter Draw, that a prize might well be on it's way pretty soon.


The first name drawn who will receive the chocolate basket was Mrs June Belfield of Basford who we will be in touch with very soon.

For our 15 runners up, who are listed below, they will each receive a Castle Comfort China Mug and Saucer as pictured below. 

Mrs Barbara G of Bradwell
Mr Terry B of Milton
Mr Peter M of Alsager
Mr Charles G of Brown Lees
Mr Sydney C of Halmerend
Mrs Eileen D of Kidsgrove
Mrs Pauline K of Kidsgrove
Mrs Joan B of Newcastle under Lyme
Mrs Yvonne C of Tunstall
Mrs Alice M of Clayton
Mr Henry M of Trentham
Mr Jeffrey P of Burslem
Mr Brian M of Leek
Mrs Kathleen B of Leek
Mrs Kathleen S of Hanford

For next draw in 2017 we will be arranging to have one of these special musical Easter chicks, which will appeal to all those who are young at heart in life (Choccy cakes not included!)

Remember that for everyone who entered, there is still the opportunity to take a £50 discount off any of the current chairs, beds or stairlifts in the showrooms at either Wolstanton or Cross Heath. 
Just mention it when you make your purchase.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Castle Comfort at Marks and Spencers Wolstanton

Marks and Spencers Wolstanton join forces with Castle Comfort Centre in aid of Approach

Our December good deeds event this year was held in the Marks and Spencers store at Wolstanton in the run up to Christmas this month. Working together with Marks and Spencers, we were raising much needed funds to support Approach, a North Staffordshire charity that helps elderly people with dementia. Will Boyce the CEO of Approach also presents a radio show on 6towns radio in Stoke and Keith went along to talk about the planned event and about some of the history of how Castle Comfort started off at Hanley Market. You can hear the interview and a great selection of music here.
You can jump to the interview by clicking at the 49 minute mark.

The original fundraising plan was to donate £1 for every ferrule and provide free teas and coffees, but the demand was so great on what was quite a cold weather weekend that the Castle Comfort team kept running out of them and had to go downstairs to the store and bring more.

It was great for some of our staff as they met up with lots of familiar faces from recent customers of the Wolstanton store, and some that remembered them from their Hanley market days nearly twenty years ago!

The event itself was very successful and raised £770 for the charity and around 200 ferrules were changed. More events are planned.   The community room itself is on the first floor of the store and for those readers who missed it Keith took a video tour of the space to get a feel for it.


Photos of the day are below and include the presentation of the cheque for £770 outside the store, which was also featured in the Sentinel to highlight the good deed.  

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Friday, 16 October 2015

Womble in Stone Cleanup Prompts Charity Cheque For Dougie Mac

Stone Town Centre Cleanup Helps Out In More Ways Than One

When Keith from Castle Comfort was out delivering a riser recliner chair in Stone just the other week, the lady receiving it was listening to Radio Stoke. The story they both heard was that a mystery man had been spotted in Stone Town Centre who was going round tidying up all the litter with a grabber - an often used aid that sells well at both of Castle Comfort's Stoke on Trent showrooms and is used to help reach and pick up items around the home as well as outside it. But he wasn't a council worker as was first thought, but a retired member of the public who as part of his civic duty was keeping the local area clean and tidy while getting some fresh air and exercise. There were three reports about it on Radio Stoke over the course of several weeks, (which are all on the video below)  
Once his identity was discovered the story culminated with Keith meeting Andrew the Litter Picker aka "The Womble of Stone", to present him with a cheque for £100 as part of the Castle Comfort Good Deeds Fund. Both a Stoke Sentinel photographer and Emma the roving Stafford reporter on Radio Stoke were there to capture the unmasking of the mystery man and to find out more about how it all started - would you believe it - it began with 3 cows over 16 years ago. Listen to all the BBC footage on the video to hear the story progress. Keen cleanup whizz Andrew can collect up to two full bin liners of litter in a morning's work and admits he doesn't mind being recognised now. As well as the giant cheque for £100 Keith also gave Andrew a new grabber as a backup and to help keep him reaching and picking up items easily as he approaches his 70th year - though he doesn't look like he is slowing down just yet. Andrew told us that he wanted to donate the money to the Douglas MacMillan hospice which celebrated it's annual bring a pound a day fundraiser this week. Here's some pictures from the day taken in Stone Town Centre.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Newcastle under Lyme Stairlifts Company Get The Cup!

Castle Comfort Stairlifts MD with Tracey Aherne of the Newcastle Bridge Club,
receiving the silver- plated Castle Comfort Trophy. 

Bridging The Gap
Our latest local sponsorship award goes to Newcastle Bridge Club

With many members of local Bridge Clubs being customers of ours and reaching the ages when wanting a nice new recliner chair for their golden years is the norm, it made sense that we would like to be involved in the launch of an annual bridge competition at Newcastle Bridge Club.  The winning pair will get their names engraved on "The Castle Comfort Cup" and also will win a cash prize, though it's not compulsory to spend it with us on any of our helpful products!
Scroll on down the page for more information all about Bridge as well as the club itself.

The Newcastle Bridge Club began nearly 65 years ago when a group from Basford Bridge Club set up their own matches in members homes and by hiring local meeting rooms.  By the 1970's they were renting a second floor room on the High Street in Newcastle, but their need for ground floor premises of their own was answered in the mid 1990's when the building on King Street became available and after a lot of hard work from volunteers and some considerable loans from members and the bank, they took possession of the premises.  The Club was officially opened by the Lady Mayor, Elsie Ashley, on Thursday 31st March 1994.

Of course, defining the word bridge goes well beyond the popular game about which we referring to with our sponsorship of Newcastle Bridge Club. Some years ago it entered the world of mobility products - to be exact stairlifts, when people with perhaps a limited a budget or simply cost conscious - needed a chairlift to go around a curve at the top of the stairs. A curved stairlift system until recent years ago could have cost between £4,000 and £7,000 - so certain manufacturers and specialist suppliers created a 'bridge platform' or often referred to as a 'bridging platform' This ingenious gadget constructed from a strong timber platform and small hydraulic hinges - enabled a straight lift to be fitted (a lot cheaper of course) and even with the extra £200 or so for the bridging platform - It was considerably less than the cost of a curved installation

Here it is, demonstrated by a 'supporter' of the Premier League team Stoke City, alias 'The Potters'

The disadvantage of a bridge platform however, is that apart from the fact it has to be lifted up and down manually by the user, they could fall of it and break their necks.
Hardly a mobility product acquisition linked to longevity!

Where the angle of the stairs and the width was considerable then the danger pointed out there is considerably less, but nevertheless, the industry has worked hard to avoid using a risky adaptation - and in recent years the cost of a good curved system, whether new or reconditioned has come down, and made them much more affordable.

Ironically, a stair-lift specialist near Stoke on Trent (whose directors are probably Stoke City fans - but not the one shown above) claim to be partially responsible for the dramatic reduction in the size of investment needed for less hazardous solutions to mounting a curved stair-well.

Castle Comfort Stairlifts, based precisely at Cross Heath and Wolstanton in Newcastle under Lyme claim, as agents for all UK manufacturers, to have enabled huge price drops due to the sheer volume of business generated by them.

Apart from handling their own direct contracts, the enquiries received are supplied to any one (OR MORE) of several manufacturers to compete for the work. These days, a price paid for a curved stairlift installation is more likely to be between £2,500 and £4,000 - still not tuppence halfpenny, but around half of what it was a few years ago. Few things we buy in life have followed such a price change pattern.

In essence, the public who contact Castle Comfort - find that they will probably receive a quotation (or more than one) to consider, that is a lot less than had they responded to a newspaper or a TV ad, thinking that was the only stairlift company to approach.

So apart from saving money, it is perhaps a better option than a broken neck! Call 01782 611411 or 01782 631111 for a free no obligation quotation for a curved (or straight) stairlift - or visit the Stairlift showhouse at Cross Heath for a ride on one!


Here below written by our esteemed columnist Mr John Pedder MBE we have more about Bridge the well loved game played especially by the most senior members of society.

"Every game has a character of its own appropriate to the company it keeps and the place where it is played."
David Partlett - Oxford Guide to Card Games

What do James Bond, Dwight Eisenhower, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Martina Navratilova, Omar Sharif and Snoopy have in common? They all play Bridge. Yes, Snoopy is no stranger to the bridge table, thanks to cartoonist Charles Schulz.

Bill Gates is a self-confessed bridge addict, attributing his condition to the billionaire investor and philanthropist Warren Buffett. Buffett, a die-hard player, once said "If I'm playing bridge and a naked woman walks by, I don't even see her"

James Bond, chalked up 7 redoubled in Ian Fleming's novel "Moonraker". The hand used by Fleming was an historic one. It is known as 'The Duke of Cumberland Hand.' Duke of Cumberland Hand - A purportedly rigged hand dealt to the son of George III, the King of England, resulting in the loss of a £20,000 wager. The hand was used in the James Bond movie, "Moonraker" against the villain Drax.
While Bond's 8 points don't look too strong, he uses Drax's tendency to clubs to promote his own diamonds resulting in a thundering thirteen tricks.

How old is Bridge? 

An early reference to Bridge, using the earlier name of trump or English ruff can be found in a perhaps unlikely place, namely a sermon published in 1529 by Bishop Hugh Latimer . The sermon, entitled "On the Cards" was given on the Sunday before Christmas 1529 in St Edmunds Church, Cambridge. "And where you are wont to celebrate Christmass in playing at Cards, I intend, by God's Grace, to deal unto you Christ's Cards, wherein you will perceive Christ's Rule. The game that we play shall be called the Triumph, where, if it be well played at he that dealeth shall win, the players shall win and likewise the standers and lookers upon shall do the same. You must mark also that the Triumph must apply to fetch unto him all the other Cards, whatever suit they be of. What requireth Christ of a Christian man? Now turn up your Trump, your Heart, (Heart is the Trump as I said before) and cast your Trump, your heart on this card."

Bishop Latimer lived in very turbulent and dangerous times, the England of the 16th century. Monarchs and prelates were all powerful and religion was at the heart of much of the power struggle. It is sad to reflect that very little has changed. Today we see that the abuse of religion and ruthless fanaticism remains at the heart of much of the world's troubles. Those who were safe and in favour could very soon see the tide of fortune rapidly change. On his death, King Henry VIII left three heirs, his son Edward and two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth. On the death of Henry, Edward V1 ascended the throne in 1547. He was just nine years old. Henry was a Protestant or, in view of his young age, it may be more likely that his advisors were. During his reign the Latin services were translated into English and a desire to establish a more Bible based faith developed. Hugh Latimer, a Cambridge scholar and Bishop of Worcester, was favoured by Henry but failed to influence the King to allow the Protestant reforms. He had more success under Edward and, with two other men, Nicholas Ridley and Thomas Cranmer, the English reformation painfully took shape. On the death of Edward V1 at the age of fifteen, his cousin, Lady Jane Gray took his place but only for a mere nine days! Mary ascended the throne in 1553 and Mary was a Roman Catholic. She earned the name "Bloody Mary". Although fewer people were condemned compared with those at the behest of her father, Henry VIII, she had hundreds of people put to death, often by fire, solely because of their religious convictions. Mary had a firm objective and that was to return England to its 'true faith' , to Roman Catholicism under the Pope. Mary ordered that Latimer, Ridley and Cranmer be arrested. They had refused to recant on their Protestant beliefs and charged with heresy - punishable by death. Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley were burnt at the stake outside Balliol College in Oxford on 16th October 1555. The same fate befell Thomas Cranmer on March 21st 1556. The clerics became known as the Oxford Martyrs. For all of his skills at the card table, Ridley failed to win his final game against a powerful player, Queen Mary 1st.They are commemorated close to the place of the executions by the Martyrs Memorial outside Balliol College, a landmark well known to Chief Inspector Morse!

Le Mémorial des Martyrs
Martyrs Memorial Oxford (Source:
Bridge has been played for centuries, albeit under different names - triumph,trump,ruff,whisk swabbers and of course by the 17th century whist.
Whist may have been a reference to the speed at which cards were swept up after a winning trick or perhaps a call for silence during play. It was in 1742 that the first book on the game was published, 'Short Treatise on Whist' by Edward Hoyles. The first game of Duplicate Whist was played in London in 1834.

Cards in Literature 

Shakespeare uses card games quite frequently in his texts. An interesting reference is taken here from 'Antony and Cleopatra' It is probably a reference to a game called Trump. This was probably the triumfo of the Italians, and the triomphe of the French — being perhaps of equal antiquity in England with primero. At the latter end of the sixteenth century it was very common among the inferior classes. There is, no doubt, a particular allusion to this game in "Antony and Cleopatra" (iv. 14), where Antony says: "the queen — Whose heart I thought I had, for she had mine; Which, whilst it was mine, had annex'd unto't A million more, now lost — she, Eros, has Pack'd cards with Caesar, and false-play'd my glory Unto an enemy's triumph." There is confusion between trump and triumph. The game in question bore a very strong resemblance to our modern whist — the only points of dissimilarity being that more or less than four persons might play at trump; that all the cards were not dealt out; and that the dealer had the privilege of discarding some, and taking others in from the stock. In Eliot's "Fruits for the French," 1593, it is called "a very common ale-house game in England." Players of modern day bridge may not be too pleased by such a description!

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

Charles Dickens was arguably the first English novelist to write with a social conscience. The gap between rich and poor, the legal system, the exploitation of children and conditions in the workhouse and prostitution all came under his scrutiny. Dickens viewed card games as a symbol of class and social mobility as well as a potential evil.
In Victorian days, cards were associated with gambling and as such were often frowned upon. 'Great Expectations', thought by Dickens to be his finest work, appeared in weekly instalments in the periodical 'All the Year Round' between December 1860 and August 1861. Young Pip is summoned by Miss Haversham to Satis House and commanded to wait upon her once a week. On first meeting, the mad Miss Haversham, still attired in her now shabby wedding gown, commands the boy to "Play, play play!"
Pip is overwhelmed but agrees to play cards with the adopted daughter Estella, who remonstrates "Play with this boy! Why, he is a common labouring boy!" "What do you play, boy?" asked Estella of myself, with the greatest of disdain. "Nothing but Beggar-my-neighbour, miss."(Beggar-my-neighbour first appears in the Oxford Dictionary in 1734 but may have evolved from an earlier game Knave Out of Doors from as far back at the 16thcentury.) "Beggar him," said Miss Haversham to Estella. So we sat down to cards. Estella beats Pip at every game and uses her skill to dominate and belittle him. As Pip grows up and becomes a gentleman he makes acquaintances in the higher echelons of society. What he had assumed would bring him happiness and fulfilment failed to come up to his expectations. Only when he rejects games playing and other trappings of the gentility does he find contentment. Pip accepts the values of the Victorian middle classes, loyalty, honesty and hard work which trumped the games of trickery and chance played by other characters in the novel.

Agatha Christie (1890-1936)

Even the least amongst lovers of literature will almost certainly have heard of the crime writer Agatha Christie. One of her best known characters, featured in the TV series, is the fictional Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot. Bridge is featured in the 1936 novel 'Cards on The Table.' There are four key players, Superintendent Battle, Colonel Race, Ariadne Oliver and Hercule Poirot. Whilst not usual police procedure, the Superintendent in charge of a murder investigation, agrees to work with three other 'sleuths', sharing all of the facts equally. "Cards on the table, that's the motto for this business" . The plot is that all of the potential murders played bridge together at the time of the murder. Poirot 's technique is to study how each of the suspects played bridge; their skill level, risk taking and their killer instinct. By using the way they played he could gain insight into their psychology and thus be led to the killer.

Bridge the Game

Bridge Players

Since the average person's small supply of politeness must last him all his life he cannot afford to waste it on bridge partners. (Alfred Sheinwold)

Bridge players are found all around the world and from all walks of life. From Monarchs and Presidents, film stars, academics, and politicians, to the ordinary man in the street, bridge has a compelling appeal. Each year teams from both The House of Commons and The House of Lords compete at the bridge table. Bridge is played at local club level and at national and inter-national level where both the determination to win is only matched by the high stakes.

The Cavendish Invitational
One of the largest, if not the largest event, certainly in terms money, is The Cavendish Invitational. The Cavendish Club, whose name is associated with the event was founded in New York back in 1925. Among the members were some of the greatest names in bridge. For whatever reasons, it moved around from Mayfair House, the Ambassador Hotel to the Ritz Tower Hotel and Carlton House. The club began hosting the Cavendish Invitational Pairs in 1975. The event continued for a number of years but in 1991, financial difficulties and a dwindling membership, forced the New York club to close its doors. However, the event continued in New York until 1997 when a major boost to its future occurred. World Bridge Productions took over the Invitational Pairs tournament and moved to the glitzy environment of Las Vegas. This was not only to raise the profile of the event but also the purse. More players were needed and WPB introduced another tournament, the Open Pairs. This is an auctioned event and is surrounded by drama and wealth. The day before the event, a black tie cocktail party is held where all the top pairs are acquired by the highest bidders. The pool can be in the region of $1million or more. The pairs purchase a minimum share of 10% in themselves and may go as high as 40% or more if agreed with the winner of the bid. So, what happens to the pool pot? At the end of the tournament, 95% is shared out proportionally. The rules are that each pair plays three boards against each of the other pairs, with a time limit of twenty five minutes per round with a total of forty five rounds being played to decide the winner. In 2012, the tournament moved location to Monaco.
Monaco 2014 gave some unexpected results as the choices made by the auctions turned out to not always be the correct ones. Number 1 rated Helgemo Helness had to be satisfied with second place in Final B which was won by the Russian pair, Gromov/Dubinin. Last year's winners, Nanev/Gunev, didn't qualify for Final A and only managed to claim eighth place in Final B. The final winners of 2014 Open Pairs, with a commanding superiority were Polish pair Krystof Buras and Gregorz Narkiewicz.

Buffett Cup
Another prestigious bridge tournament is the Buffett Cup, named of course after Warren Buffett (the inspiration behind Bill Gates' addiction to bridge) first staged in 2006. The event is modelled on the Ryder Cup golf competition with teams competing from the USA and Europe. This biennial event is held the week preceding the Ryder Cup. Teams are selected by invitation and must include at least two female players. The tournament allows for a mixture of teams of four, pairs and individual sessions. The 2014 Buffett Cup was scheduled to be held in Monaco but in the event it never happened. It was Europe's turn to offer a location and Monaco graciously offered to be the host and provide funding, with the exception of airfare. The problem was that the American Bridge Federation agreed to fund the tickets but then withdrew the offer. It seems that agreement could not be reached when deciding on the US team and months of bitter infighting followed, resulting in cancellation.

Bridge over troubled water
I now return to Agatha Christie's 'Cards on The Table' and the theme of murder. Surely, there is no connection between murder and bridge? Well, in fact there is more than one recorded murder where bridge was a factor.

"Regardless of what sadistic impulses were may harbour, winning bridge means helping a partner avoid mistakes." (Frank Stewart)

 The Bridge Murder Case September 1929

What activities should a married couple never undertake together? No doubt there are many. I would certainly list learning to drive and hanging wallpaper! It would seem that playing bridge should be added to the list. It has led to murder - literally.

It all started as a perfectly normal social occasion between neighbours on the evening of September 29th 1927 in Kansas City. John and Myrtle Bennett were hosts to their friends Charles and Myrna Hofman who lived in the same affluent apartment block. Earlier in the day, the two men had played golf. John Bennett was said to be of a volatile disposition and was prone to slapping his wife when things failed to go his way - not an ideal qualification for bridge partners! The Hofmans were not skilled players and the Bennetts were soon in a commanding lead.
As the evening progressed the Hofmans managed to catch up and then took the lead. The tables had been turned by the time the fatal hand was played. In the debacle that followed, the cards were scattered and the exact nature of the hand is largely a guess. What was remembered by the survivors was the bidding.
John Bennett opened one spade, Charles Hofman overcalled two diamonds and Myrtle Bennett ended the auction with a jump to game in spades. After Mr Hofman made the opening lead Mrs Bennett spread as dummy a collection of cards Myrna Hofman was later to describe as "a rather good hand". Myrtle clearly believed the dummy she had laid out added to the values of her husband's first bid and should easily have resulted in game but Mr Bennett managed to fail in his contract by two tricks. It was then discovered that he had opened on less than full values.
It was alleged that after Mr Bennett played the hand to its inevitable less than glorious conclusion, his wife added to the already volatile atmosphere by calling him "a bum bridge player."
What followed is taken from Myra Hofman's testimony. The Hofman's tried to restore calm but could not do so. Bennett slapped his wife several times and said that he was going to spend the night in a hotel and then leave town.
What followed bears an uncanny likeness to the events described in the recent trial of Oscar Pistorius! John Bennett went to the bedroom and started to pack a suitcase and Myrtle went to her mother's room where she knew there was a loaded gun. Seeing the gun, John Bennett ran into the bathroom and bolted the door. Myrtle fired twice through the locked door. Unlike the Pistorius case, both shots missed.
A frantic John Bennett escaped from the bathroom by another door which led into a hallway, ran through the lounge and made an unsuccessful attempt to open the front door. Myrtle was quickly upon him and fired another two shots, this time with fatal results. Myrtle Bennett was charged with first degree murder. In the trial that followed Myrtle pleaded not guilty and claimed that she brought the gun to give to her husband as he routinely carried one when going away on business trips. The gun went off by accident as she tripped up in hall. Incredibly the jury chose to ignore the two bullet holes in the bathroom door and the fact that there was no suitcase in the hall. Mrs Bennett was acquitted. (

So, the Bennett case was a long time ago and surely such a case couldn't happen again. Well, it did as recently as July 2010. The shocking case was reported by 'BBC News Lancashire.'

Bridge player Stephen Green guilty of wife's murder

A former world championship bridge player has been jailed for life for murdering his wife in a knife attack. Stephen Green, 52, stabbed Carole Green, 57, 100 times at their flat in Lytham St Annes, Lancashire. A jury at Preston Crown Court took 75 minutes to convict the former British Aerospace worker after a week-long trial. The murder followed his constant criticism of her card-playing. He was ordered to serve a minimum of 23 years after being found guilty of her murder. The court was told of the couple's stormy relationship, Green's heavy drinking and constant bickering about Mrs Green's playing abilities at Lytham Bridge Club, where they first met. The court heard testimonies from fellow bridge players who said that Green considered his wife to be a mere "club player" and viciously put her down in front of friends. It beggars belief that a card game could be taken so seriously as to result in an extraordinary motive for a frenzied attack by a player of world championship status.

What is the future for Bridge Clubs? We are living in a high tech world. Every electronic gadget has to be fast, exciting and gratification has to be immediate. Viewers of 'Click' will know that the industry brings out something new to tempt our obsession with all things cyber and virtual with frightening regularity. One can of course play bridge on line but this is another example of people interacting with others, who may or may not be real, in a solitary environment, an introverted world - we are losing the ability to socialise. A part of going to play real bridge with real people in a real place should not be surrendered easily. However, I fear that such activity may be the domain of a dwindling number of predominately older people, unless the image of the game or some of the discipline required to learn it changes somewhat.
Writing in 'The Independent' (Monday October 27th. 2014), Maureen Hiron, The Independent's bridge correspondent, expressed fears for the future of what may be claimed to be the world's most sophisticated and subtle card game. She believes it to be both an image problem and too complicated, especially for younger people. "The world's most sophisticated and subtle card game has got a serious image problem. While poker conjures up notions of fast cars, loose women and all-nighters in Vegas, bridge is more likely to suggest cucumber sandwiches, blue rinses and afternoon naps.
That's why Ms. Hiron, The Independent's in-house expert, set out to create a faster, funkier version that would bring younger players flocking to the green baize." I can hear the purists shouting with outrage already! "Two years ago, Maureen Hiron -The Independent's bridge correspondent - was playing a weeknight club game with her expat friends in Marbella when there was a break in play. Table seven had been asked to speed up a little. The instruction, quite literally, fell on deaf ears. That night, table seven consisted of a 98-year-old golfing Canadian called Sidney Matthews; Edith Gross, 95, a former ballerina who once danced for Adolf Hitler; Lilian Matthews, a Spanish international bridge player, 90; and 90-year-old Lorenzo Runeberg, a Finnish international known as "Ruthless Runie". They had a combined age of 373.
For Hiron, a British international herself, there couldn't have been a clearer example of the way bridge is becoming a dangerously old game. She is not the only one to make this observation. Ever since poker took off in Britain in the last decade, bridge has been fighting an uphill battle. Although, worldwide, 200 million people play bridge, it is an increasingly ageing constituency. And in Britain, despite signs in the Nineties that the game was bursting with life, there are now fewer than 30,000 members of the English Bridge Union, the game's governing body. The average age of EBU members is 55 (for the American Contract Bridge League that figure is over 60).
As a solution towards this she has created a game called Abridged, a simplified version of bridge. It gets rid of bidding, the most complicated part of the game and uses colours, not suits. Face cards have been replaced by the numbers 11,12,13 and 14. Abridged is a huge hit in America. After an initial sell out run, another 50,000 boards are about to hit the shops. Can it be the same here in Britain?
"I can see what is happening in bridge," says Hiron. "Because it's become so complex, because the learning curve has become so huge, people are put off by it. It's only natural. Bridge is a living, breathing game, and it has developed. That's fine for committed players but it means that to learn the game can be eternal for some people. What I have done is to get rid of the complicated part of the game, so people can start playing in twenty minutes. "
Chair of the English Bridge Union Peter Stoken had this to say about it. "There's absolutely no reason why the average age of bridge players should be going up. It's entirely our own fault for not coming to grips earlier with what we should be doing. We've come to realise that bridge needs a change of culture, and what we need to do is to create happy, friendly clubs where you can get a good game. One of the blights of bridge in the past, for instance, has been the bad behaviour of some. God knows, I was guilty of it in my youth. It's usually partners getting at each other, and it's incredibly off-putting."

Do you play bridge? Did it take you a long time to learn the intricacies of the game? What age did you start learning it? Let us know in the comments, and if you do fancy a few games or want to start learning then call the club on 01782 611164 to find out more about it.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Phil The Power Taylor Buys His Mum A Riser Recliner Chair

Phil's Mum Scores A Bullseye With Her Choice Of New Chair

"Keith delivered the chair personally within half an hour and my mum's previous one was taken to a friend's house with no cost. All professional, organised and simply aiming everything just right!"

Castle Comfort staff knew Phil supports many local good causes in Stoke on Trent. So on delivery of his mum's riser recliner chair, asked for permission if they could use the photos and short films taken on our blog and website, and in return would make a donation to one of his favourite charities.

Phil was delighted, and mentioned without hesitation 'Donna Louise' So it's a top score on the day for all... Castle Comfort achieved more business and delighted to have a celebrity of this status in the client list, and Phil Taylor's mum is over the moon.

Not least, Donna Louise, a marvellous institution doing a fantastic job will now have received a cheque for £150. (see pic below)
Acknowledgement from Donna Louise Children's Hospital Trust

Phil had said that they had been to a few places looking for chairs and that Castle Comfort had the largest selection.  His mum was pleased because she had finally found a chair that was just "so comfortable."

So thanks again Phil for kindly allowing us to use the picture and video and we trust your mum is very happy with her new purchase.

Keith, Ann and Dr.Stirling - Castle Comfort Centre

Monday, 12 May 2014

Castle Comfort in Newcastle under Lyme takes on new employee

Chairs For The Elderly Showroom Takes On New Recruit

Expanding Stoke on Trent business Castle Comfort Centre has just taken on a young lady by the name of Camilla (on the left pictured standing next to Castle Comfort director Ann Bruce.)

She is the latest applicant to the Castle Comfort Centre branch of the business in Cross Heath, Newcastle under Lyme. The other main branch being Wolstanton where Castle Comfort Centre is located.  Also we have another satellite branch at Tunstall Market.  It is anticipated she will rotate her shifts round all 3 branches once her training induction period has completed.

Her duties will include greeting guests at the door and marketing and promotions and she has kindly agreed to work unpaid 24 hours a day, refuses to take a break or have any time off for lunch! She also won't sit down on the job. What??!!  Isn't that illegal?

To see an actual video of Camilla in action scroll down the page, click on the white triangle and all will be revealed.....

If you like our fun and friendly approach why not pay us a visit and you can see a nice range of comfortable chairs while you are here. Many folk have come over the road from HSL Chairs to do their comparison shopping and we welcome you to park for free right outside our shop. Our testimonials around the web show what people think of our service, our quality products and our value for money prices.

While you are here you can also take a look around our adapted bathroom or ride on the stairlift, which is a brand new Acorn/Brooks model that we have here for people to try before you buy. Walking Sticks and Wheeled Walkers are also available to purchase along with adjustable beds and chairs from top British manufacturers.

Enjoyed the little clip below? Please pass it on in Social Media.
Facebook Shares, Tweets and Pins Appreciated!

The latest update is that Camilla has a boyfriend!

See the picture below taken with our friendly neighbours, the guys from ETS - our local electrical and lighting suppliers next door. We know it is hot weather but at least he could have put some trousers on. The honking of horns has been very distracting!

She is currently advertising comfy chairs at:-

Castle Comfort Stairlifts Ltd, 135 Liverpool Road, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire ST5 9HD

Beep your horn when you pass!

Monday, 23 September 2013

Traudi Plesch OBE

In Memory of Traudi Plesch OBE 1922 – 2013

A guest post by John A Pedder MBE

“Whatever is done for love always occurs beyond good and evil” 
(Friedrich Nietzsche)

Traudi Plesch passed away on August 10th 2013 at the age of 91. Her husband Peter passed away just a short time before her on March the 5th of the same year. They were both remarkable and North Staffordshire will be the poorer for their passing.

As the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche put it, anything done in love, supersedes evil. Both Traudi and Peter came from a background of evil but proved that from evil, good can triumph. Peter was born in Germany and Traudi in Austria. Peter was one of the last surviving members of the European Diaspora of intellectuals forced to escape Nazism in the 1930s and 1940s. In the 1930s the family fled to England.

Peter went to Harrow School and Cambridge and then in 1951, he was appointed to the University of North Staffordshire, now Keele University, as one of the first non-professorial staff, teaching physical chemistry. His death marks the end of an era at Keele as he was the last surviving member of staff from the 1950s. Peter Plesch was hugely enthusiastic, not only about science and chemistry but about life. His enthusiasm was infectious. He was aware of his own good fortune when his family escaped the fate of so many of their compatriots and this had shaped his attitude and generosity of spirit.
In his words

 “I live my life to the full for all those whose lives were taken. My duty to them forbids anything less.”

This dedication and enthusiasm was also to be seen in the life of his second wife Traudi. She had fled her native Austria to escape the Nazi domination and ensuing holocaust. Living with Peter in the Westlands, she too was to put her stamp on this area. Her love of life and of the people of Newcastle and North Staffordshire manifested itself in prolific fund raising for her many chosen good causes. She was the inspiration that resulted in the raising of huge sums of money. These included £300,000 towards the building of the Douglas Macmillan Hospice in Blurton and another £660,000 to establish a day centre to mark the Hospice’s Silver Jubilee year. She was to go on to lead the £750,000 appeal to build the Child Development Centre at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire. In 2000 Traudi was awarded the OBE in recognition of her charity work in North Staffordshire.

Some words from Karen McKenzie, Hospice Director of Income Generation

“We are indebted to this amazing lady for her significant help over many years. Traudi was a huge personality and a fabulous ambassador for us.”

Her relatives have set up a justgiving page to raise funds in her memory, towards international cancer research.  The link is here


Founder of the Castle Comfort Mobility Products Group, Keith Simpson wishes to thank John Pedder MBE for this accurate and fitting tribute to Mr & Mrs Plesch.

Keith states' "Peter and Traudi as our clients for many years, became friends.

Their needs in later years for our services, whether a rubber stopper for a walking stick or a specialised stairlift system, were fulfilled by our staff who were privileged to ensure their exacting standards were met.

A particular feature with the Plesches was that our efforts would always be acknowledged, and indeed very quickly by telephone and in writing. If ever they felt a tiny improvement, over any aspect of our products and services - could be made... . it would be politely suggested, and for this we were grateful.

It has been a pleasure to be of assistance over many years .. and as with any of our clients, their passing away brings great sadness .. but always fond memories."

Keith Simpson

Friday, 6 September 2013

Adlington Retirement Apartments Wolstanton

Adlington Retirement Apartments Wolstanton

Starting to build Adlington Retirement Village, Wolstanton
We are very excited to see the progress in the village of the Adlington retirement complex.  Built on the site of the former garage in Wolstanton High Street the Adlington Apartments are a welcome addition to the area and having all the local businesses so close by will be very handy for all the new residents.

The facilities of an Adlington development are superb as they offer 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments and a number of activity rooms, lounges, a restaurant and a guest suite with en-suite facilities for visiting family.

Naturally as the areas best mobility products and independent living supplier we are well placed to offer high quality space saving riser recliner chairs and electric adjustable beds as well as the everyday assistance from helpful items like grabbers, perching stools or walking sticks, which are all designed to be useful for the over 55's who might need them living at Adlington in Wolstanton.

Adlington Retirement Village, Wolstanton
They even offer an internal mobility scooter parking suite with electrical charge points.  Don't worry if you haven't got a scooter yet, as we can arrange to pick you up and demonstrate one for you here at the showroom or get you set up with any extra equipment you might need in your new home.

The development itself will also offer 24-hour on site care, if required, and will be provided by Methodist Homes Association staff, one of the premier organisations in the field.

The Adlington apartment complexes, of which there are already 2 built in the UK (Rhos on Sea and Stockport) have proved very popular with buyers and we foresee that the quality building, in-house facilities and convenient location for visiting local shops and the health centre, all adds up to a great place to spend your golden years.

Once the ribbon is cut on the building we anticipate helping many of the new residents make their new apartments comfortable and homely and introducing them to our renowned high quality customer service.
If you have read down this far you can get £50 cashback* on your choice of a brand new riser recliner chair from the showroom, by quoting the "Adlington Castle Comfort Blog."
Adlington Apartments Wolstanton
See you soon.

Dr.Stirling, Ann and Keith from Castle Comfort Centre, Wolstanton

*(One cashback offer per each brand new chair you order)

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Telephones For The Elderly With Big Buttons

Special Phones For The Elderly or Disabled - with Big Buttons - for Stoke on Trent folk.

Helping Staffordshire and Cheshire retired and disabled people, stay connected to those they may need to contact - and be contacted by.

Public Domain Image
Telephones have certainly come a long way since that first one developed by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876.  Now we expect to be able to speak to people any where in the world or at least text them.  You’ll have noticed that many people are always speaking or texting on the phone even when walking through the streets, in a restaurant, at home, everywhere.  Nowadays we expect to be connected at all times!

People in Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire were perhaps ahead in the mobile telephone revolution in the 1980s as local entrepreneur, John Caudwell created one of the world's biggest mobile companies

Source:Wikipedia Pbroks13
Telephones are a way of keeping in contact with people who live a long way away or a lifeline to help or just for going about your daily life.  Test yours out by giving us a ring! 01782 611 411

The developments in telephones have certainly made it possible to advance phones with special applications that can make them easier for those with disabilities or mobility issues.  Now that landlines have cordless handsets and there are mobile phones that connect to a network wherever you are – most of the time – a telephone means that you can easily be connected to whoever you need to speak to at anytime.

Features and benefits of the telephone for those with disabilities
  • Cordless handsets: this means that you can keep the telephone handset close to you especially if you are slow to get to the telephone base holder or hard of hearing
  • Hands-free telephones have built in microphones and loudspeakers which means you can speak to them and hear the caller without lifting the handset
  • On-hook dialling allows you to dial a number without lifting the receiver
  • Digital or caller display telephones have a small screen on which the number of the caller (or their name if you have their number stored on your phone) comes up when they call.  This means you know who is calling before you answer the telephone
  • Telephone memory allows you to store important numbers on your phone
  • Last number redial or call-back allows you to call the last number that called you by pressing just one button
  • Inductive couplers can be built-in to the phone or a small add-on box that can be attached to the handset.  They allow hearing aids that have a ‘T’ switch to pick up the ring tone
  • A pulsator gives a vibrating sound when placed on the bone in front or behind the ear.  This helps some people to hear the conversation of the caller better
  • Keys with a raised dot on the ‘5’ help people to navigate around the keypad.  The 5 is the central button so those who can’t see for instance know this key is in the middle
  • A phone with a ringer volume control allows the user to turn the volume of the ringer up or down
  • Built-in volume control allows the user to turn the volume of the conversation on the phone up or down
Telephones for those with disabilities
A number of the specially developed features for those with disabilities can be useful for several disabilities.  Others have been developed specifically to focus on a particular problem

Telephones for the visually impaired
There are some features that can make it easier for those who find it difficult to see.
  • For instance a larger keypad with larger buttons and more space between them helps to avoid misdials; a contrasting colour to define the space between keys will also help to avoid misdials. One of the main brands is the Doro.

  • Number memory allows frequently used telephone numbers to be stored in the phone.  This is really useful for quicker dialling for those who have difficulty seeing clearly

  • The raised dot on the ‘5’ as we’ve already mentioned helps to identify where you are on the keypad as 5 is the central figure

  • Either a wall mounted telephone so that it is at eyelevel or a cordless handset which you can bring closer to your eyes are both a help for those whose eyesight isn’t as good as it used to be
  • An added bonus can be a voice prompt that is available in some answer phones.  This could give you a voice message when a message has been left on the answer machine for you.  Some of these also give you voice-prompts when you are retrieving messages left for you or trying to record outgoing messages

Telephone for those with impaired dexterity
There are several adaptations of telephones for someone with limited movement especially in their hands:
  • Large concave buttons and more space between them
  • Hands-free set so that you can just use your voice
  • On hook dialling so that the handset doesn’t need to be lifted to dial the number
  • Telephone headsets to enable private conversations i.e. not on speaker phone but still leaving your hands free
  • Number memory to store frequently used numbers
  • Pre-dial allows you longer to key in the number and then just press the dial button i.e. gives you more time and makes it easier
  • Last number redial which allows you to call the last number that called you with one key
  • An automatic answering phone allows the person dialling in to manage the call as long as they are a pre-recognised number.  All the user has to do is listen and speak into the provided clip-on microphone.  The caller has to activate the phone with a 3-digit PIN.  This also means that only those with given permission can get through
  • Telephone conversation recorders allow the user to record conversations.  This is a particularly useful feature if the user is unable to take notes
  • Holders and stands are available for the handset so that the user doesn’t have to pick up or hold the handset for any length of time – nor put it back on the receiver!

For those with speech impediments
  • Hands-free is a useful feature especially if the user is using a computer or other aid with a keyboard and synthesised speech
  • Speech amplification on out-going calls means that a user with a weak voice can be heard
  • A fax machine allows the user to communicate in writing rather than by voice
  • Caller display allows the user to see who the caller is without speaking to them
  • Recording or using a recorded message on an answer phone or voice mail box can invite callers to leave a message so that the user doesn’t need to speak
  • If the user’s speech is difficult to understand a textphone allows the conversation to be typed rather than spoken
  • SMS or texting is widely available on mobile telephones and allows the user to send a written message to another similar phone
  • Video phones come into their own if you need to use sign language for instance as both parties can see one another

Communicating by telephone if you have a hearing impediment
  • Use a telephone that is ‘hearing aid compatible’ i.e. has an earpiece with an audio magnetic field
  • Using a hearing aid with a T setting affords a clearer sound as long as the aid is switched to T
  • Use the ringing volume control to ensure you hear the phone ring
  • Or add on a telephone bell unit to increase the ringing volume.  These units are usually mains electric or battery powered and will need a telephone socket to plug into
  • A telephone with a flashing light when the phone rings helps for those who have no or very poor hearing.  Be aware that often these flashing lights are small so you may need to position the phone near to you
  • Again add-on flashing units can be installed.  These are usually powered by mains electricity so will need a nearby plug and telephone socket
  • There are systems available that can cause lights in the house to flash when the phone rings.  These should be installed by an electrician

For those who find it difficult to hear the telephone conversation
  • Using an inductive coupler with your hearing aid turned to T will help to clarify the voice of the caller and also cut out background noise.  These don’t actually amplify the volume though
  • Inductive couplers can be built-in or bought as an add-on unit
  • Pulsators can help some to hear the conversation more clearly.  They operate by vibrating the sound when placed on the bone in front or behind your ear
Wikipedia:Ben Schumin Zach Vega

Mobile phones for older people

Pros - developed in the 1980s, the mobile phone can be useful for those with disabilities. As well as text messaging and caller recognition, many of them now accept the voice as a way of communication.  For instance you can ask a new smart phone to call a number in the stored phone book.  The internet can also be activated from many mobile phones too.

Cons – sometimes people who are less dexterous find mobile phones too small and fiddly to use and they usually take longer to set up than a landline phone.  Just as you have to remember to put your cordless handset back in its base to ensure it is charged, a mobile also runs on battery and must be plugged in and charged regularly using a special plug and cable.  Digital mobile phones can cause bad interference to analogue hearing aids but this can be addressed by wearing headphones or a headset.
  • There are a number of additional services that are available to those who have problems:
  • If you have a BT landline, they will supply an extension ringer to help you hear the telephone ringing
  • A free Directory Enquiry service is available to those who cannot use the directories due to a disability as long as it is backed up by your doctor
  • Several telephone service providers offer an ‘assisted call service’ if the user has difficulty using the keys to dial
  • Vulnerable customers (disabled or older) should let their service provider know of their condition so that when an engineer visits they can be given a pre-arranged password so that you know it is OK to let them in.
  • Literature and bills in accessible Formats – suppliers are legally obligated to ensure you get bills and other literature in a format you can read i.e. Braille, large-print and multi-media.  Many now provide Internet access so that bills can be seen online or there is a service where your bill is read to you over the phone.

If you are having difficulties or want more detailed information this factsheet produced by the Disabled Living Foundation should help.  And if you want something locally give us a call at Castle Comfort Centre and we will help.  Call us today or pop in.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

West End Village Stoke Xmas Hamper Presentation

On Monday at West End Village Stoke Castle Comfort Centre's Keith Simpson and Dr. Neil Stirling were presenting the winners, Brian and Phyllis, who are residents of West End Village Stoke with their Christmas Hamper.

Representatives from Blackfriars School, Donna Louise Trust and the Salvation Army were on hand to be awarded cheques which were the proceeds raised from selling the raffle tickets in local Sainsburys and Morrisons supermarkets.

Many thanks to Jan from West End Village who enabled the presentation to be filmed in the main foyer just before the childrens choir made their entrance.

The video is below click in the middle to watch it.

West End Village is an extracare over 55's housing development that won Best of British design awards when built in 2011.  It has 100 apartments available from Staffordshire Housing Association on a shared ownership basis.  A 2 bedroom flat is approximately £95,000.

The development has a gym, hairdressing salon and restaurant and there is an amazing lifelike painting in the grounds of a narrowboat from Stoke artist +Rob Pointon

The most often purchased products from our mobility aids showroom are riser recliner chairs, adjustable beds and walking sticks.  We have a number of West End Village residents as customers and provide free delivery to any local address.

Some lovely thank-you notes have been received, for our Christmas charity donations.  Firstly from the Blackfriars and Coppice Federation which is below.

The next one we have is the Donna Louise Hospice Trust.

And thirdly we have had a note from the Salvation Army in Chesterton who have been able to donate gifts to over 5000 families in North Staffordshire.

Whatever the time of year if you need to be more comfortable with sitting, standing, walking around or sleeping then one or more of our mobility products can help you there.  See our website to find out more.