The retired Harrogate civil servant who made a care home resident's day with a Ford Thunderbird called Lucille

A retired Harrogate civil servant has helped a former Mayor of Harrogate, who now lives in a care home, to fufill a dream moment.

Friday, 11th June 2021, 10:57 am
Staff members Lynsey, Hannah and Louise at The Cuttings care home in Harrogate with resident Richard Whitfield and the fabulous vintage car.

Peter Holmes, a recently retired civil servant of 30 years, 20 of which were at RAF Menwith Hill, found out about Richard Whitfield, a resident at The Cuttings care home in Starbeck, Harrogate, when he volunteered for "befriending".

He soon learnt that the two of them shared a passion for vintage cars, American, as well as British.

Exciting moment - Former Harrogate Mayor Richard Whitfield, a resident at The Cuttings care home in Starbeck, sitting in the vintage Ford Thunderbird.

Mr Holmes said: "After I retired I decided I wanted to do some kind of voluntary service after recently retiring. My wife is a community physiotherapist in Harrogate who works with older people.

"She told me many sad stories of lonely old folks who are desperate for some company and a chat. I decided to try "befriending".

"I contacted Julia Lightfoot at Supporting Older People charity.

"She quickly got me registered and suggested a possible befriending of a chap called Richard Whitfield, who was a resident at The Cuttings, run by Harrogate Neighbours, who provide round-the-clock care in residential homes.

"He is a very popular resident at the care home and is a former Lord Mayor of Harrogate.

"Plus his cousin was also the lovely June Whitfield of "Terry and June" fame!"

"We got on famously and have many a good conversation since then, swapping stories on our various experiences.

"It turns out Richard had an interest in vintage cars, having owed a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost."

And that is where luck stepped in. By sheer chance, Mr Holmes had recently bought a fabulous 1966 Ford Thunderbird convertible, which he calls Lucille, after a favourite auntie.

Mr Holmes said: "Richard was keen to see Lucille so I suggested driving her down the care home for him to see it in the flesh.

"I spoke to The Cuttings management who were very supportive and thought it would be great for other residents to come out and see the car.

"We had a great time.and I took Richard on a spin round Harrogate in the T-Bird and had a fantastic day.

"I also thought it would be a good way of helping raise the profile of Supporting Older People (SOP) and Harrogate Neighbours."

Harrogate Neighbours are an elderly care charity based in Harrogate, providing round-the-clock care in residential homes.

More information at

Founded in founded in 1982, Supporting Older People is a registered charity in Harrogate and Knaresborough aiming to alleviate loneliness and isolation often experienced by older people living on their own.

It is always looking for volunteers.

More information at

Lucille has an Instagram page called @lucille_thunderbird if people want to see what she gets up to. I've driven her around town a few times now. I'm considering hiring her out fo weddings.

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