Relaxed - Remarkable - Refreshing

Pavilion at the Park Bedford

Bedford Park

locally produced, seasonal food. We cook simple and imaginative dishes and high quality British cuisine.

Filtering by Category: Local Hero

Carers at The Park

One of the many lovely things about working at The Kiosk at the park is meeting lots of groups of people having a great time together, and enjoying being outside in the fresh air - even when the air has that ever-so-slightly-arctic feel about it. Recently we had a group from Carers in Bedfordshire arrive at the Kiosk for an essential warm drink interlude. A quick chat with them revealed that this walking group is just a part of the vibrant support network that the charity provides for the ever increasing numbers of people who become carers for aging or ill relatives. We were so impressed by the support that the walking group provided, we went to meet Linda, adult care support worker and one-woman dynamo to find out more about the work that Carers in Bedofrdshire do. Linda is one of those people who is so utterly passionate about her job that her enthusiasm and kindness is infectious.

Carers 1

Carers in Bedfordshire offers support for all kinds of carers - people who are elderly or sick themselves but still looking after a disabled husband or wife; parents who care for disabled or terminally ill children, even the siblings of disabled children, whose own needs can often feel neglected. The charity's strap line is 'working to prevent the carers of today becoming the carers of tomorrow.'  Linda explained how many carers, especially those who are elderly themselves see caring for their loved one as a responsibility that they must fulfill whatever the effects on their own health. 'It's like taking on another full-time, new career when they are well in to their own retirement,' she said. 'And often these people are very close to breaking point, because it's such a physical job, with all the lifting and moving it involves, as well as the huge emotional strain. When dementure is involved, it's a kind of grief the carers are dealing with on an every day basis, often for years at a time.'

Carers 2

Founded by Yvonne Clark, herself a carer and nurse, the charity which also receives some local authority funding, provides a lifeline to hundreds of cares in the Bedford area. The walking group that we'd met at the Kiosk is one of their organised activities, and Linda was particularly enthusiastic about the benefits of the group meeting outside, and having a reinvigorating stroll in the fresh air, whilst having a natter and of course a restorative cup of tea. 'Many of the walking group have been going for a long time now, and it's become like a family. We keep carers registered for as long as they feel they need, even after the person they've cared for has passed away. There are even groups for ex-carers,' explains Linda.

New friends

All of the groups the charity run are along a similar theme - treating carers as the individuals that they are, giving them a much needed break from the intense work that they do, or just offering a space to share worries and experiences with others in similar situations. 'Carers Cafes' are a service that the charity offer on a regular basis - these are regular drop in sessions across Bedfordshire where carers, and the people they care for can relax in a safe and friendly environment.

Hairdressing, manicures and chiropody appointments are amongst the services available at these cafes, as well as talks by guest speakers, arts and crafts and the benefits of having a good chat over a cup of tea and a slice of cake, and meeting new friends. Talking about the success of the cafes, Linda says 'they work because there are no age or gender boundaries. It's so inclusive, and we get such a variety of people who come. ' Offering services like hairdressing can be vital to full time carers. 'I knew of one lady who almost never got her hair done, because it just involved so much work and was so expensive - she had to arrange for a specialist sitter to come and look after her husband, arrange transport to and from town - and it was just very expensive. She can come to one of our Carers Cafes now, and her husband is looked after while she gets her hair done, just in the next room. And then they can have a cup of tea together afterwards.'

carers 3

There are also specialist  groups for people who care for those with mental health problems, for carers of disabled children, young carers and siblings of cared-for children. The charity offer advice on benefits and other services open to carers and hold regular fundraising events. Linda was instrumental in organizing the most recent - an Elvis night with a disco, bar and a special guest appearance by the man himself! She also organizes shipments of handmade teddies and hand puppets to be sent to children in hospitals and orphanages in places such as Burma. Often these are made by carers, or people who are cared for. 'The feeling that they are helping children who have very little,' says Linda, 'means a lot. They love feeling like they are helping someone else.'

If you, or someone you know is a carer, and would like some support, you can register as a carer on the Carers in Bedfordshire website here. And equally, if you'd like to donate to the charity, you can do that on the same page. We think the carers do a wonderful job, and can't wait to have a cup of tea and a cake or two with the walking group on their next outing!

Local Hero - Jeni Melia

Our Local Hero for February is the very deserving and equally as lovely Jeni Melia; musician, music therapist and director of the fantastic Music 4 Memory in Bedford, nominated by Sarah Russell. Established in 2008, Music 4 Memory is a twice-weekly group which brings together people with dementia and their carers, aiming to offer them an opportunity to sing, dance and laugh together in a supported, welcoming and stimulating environment.

Jeni has lead the group from its beginnings, and she firmly believes that 'Music 4 Memory can achieve anything'. This vision and belief clearly inspires the whole group, who have gone on to achieve wonderful things such as participating in the hugely successful 'Hear and Now' project alongside youth choir Fusion, and the Philharmonic Orchestra. This pioneering inter-generational project was created to bring together these diverse groups from the same community in order to foster mutual understanding through a common love of music. Much of the inspiration for the compositions came from the reminiscences and memories of the Music 4 Memory group themselves – making it a very powerful, personal and extremely moving piece of music.

Jeni is an experienced musician, teacher and qualified music therapist whose dedication to Music 4 Memory has ensured that each week, up to 60 people with dementia and their carers are united, inspired participants in something meaningful, and thoroughly enjoyable.  As one member of the group says 'Music 4 Memory reminds me of who I am and what I can do.'


We are especially pleased that Jeni is our local hero this month, as Kiosk co-owner Nansi Rose takes her own mum along to Music 4 Mermory, and has seen first hand how much the participants all benefit from Jeni's enthusiasm, encouragement and kindness.  'My Mum even sings solos, her most recent performance being of a folk song in Welsh - Jeni makes even the impossible happen and there wasn't a dry eye in the house!'.


We hope that Jeni and her friends are hungry when they come down to the Kiosk for her Local Hero reward – cake stands laden with home-baked cakes, scones and other goodies. Congratulations Jeni!

We are always on the lookout for Local Heroes and would love to hear from you if you have someone in mind who you think deserves a special treat.  All you have to do is send us an email to or drop a note into The Kiosk with your name and contact details and the name and contact details of the person you would like to nominate.  Write a short paragraph about what makes them a Local Hero and we will do the rest!  The successful nominee will be invited to join us, with you and our friends from The Clanger to enjoy afternoon tea in the park where they will be presented with their Local Hero Certificate.

Meeting a Local Hero

Once a month, the Kiosk at the Park host a very special afternoon tea for the winner of that month’s local hero competition. The competition is run through local Arts newspaper the Bedford Clanger, and each month celebrates a local person who does heroic things as part of their everyday lives. You can send in a nomination to the Clanger, and the winner – and crucially, the person that nominated them, gets to come to the Kiosk for a very nice cake-stand-full of delicious home-made cakes, and tea or coffee, or indeed hot chocolate. 
On Friday, it was the well deserved turn of Tracey Emmott, a local solicitor, who has spent most of her career helping victims of abuse. Tracey works tirelessly, fighting cases which often take up to seven years to complete, for justice on behalf of very vulnerable people. Recently, she won a landmark case in the Court of Appeal, London, which gives victims of abuse by members of the Church greater legal rights against them. Nominated by friends Fiona and Kristy Adams, who say that although her line of work could be seen as depressing and relentless, she is always “ever-cheerful, and despite work commitments, is extremely active in the local community, and is described as a ‘terrific mum’ by her children.” A true hero! 
As well as afternoon tea, local heroes are presented with a certificate, and are featured in the Bedford Clanger. It is a great way of recognizing the achievements of some of Bedford’s unsung heros. If you would like to nominate someone, you can email the Clanger here:
Tracey brought her mum, her husband, and the two friends who nominated her to share her celebratory afternoon tea at the Kiosk, much fun (and cake) was had by all. Congratulations, Tracey!
Here is our local hero Tracey (centre), along with friends Fiona (left) and Kirsty (right), and some rather tasty looking cakes…