The Residential Care Home built by the Community... Celebrating 40 years!

Carole A. Willett - Committee Chairman

After a working life in the teaching profession, I began my new "career" at Vaughan Lee House five years ago, when I walked through its doors to become a tea trolley volunteer, for a couple of hours each week.  Little did I realise then that my involvement would escalate through one-to-one chats with the residents, to helping with activities and joining the Friends of Vaughan Lee in their fund raising efforts, until I finally found myself on the Management Committee. Each step along the way just seemed to grow out of the previous one all by itself and it was all such fun, mostly because the residents are such special people, with a whole lifetime of stories to share.  So be warned … we are always on the lookout for new volunteers and you never can tell where that might lead you. For me, in September 2013, it led to the Chair of the Committee and a whole new set of responsibilities towards the Home. It is a fascinating challenge to come to the running of this charitable business through having experienced the working of the Home at ground level. What a revelation to discover the depth to which our mantra "built by the community for the community" still reflects, as strongly today as it did in our opening year of 1970, the generous support we receive from our Ilminster town community.


Patricia Fry-Foley 

Patricia has been through several metamorphoses over the years. Early career centred around all aspects of Charter Aviation from accounting to Flight Operations. This was followed by nine years in Australia mainly doing accountancy. Back in the UK the next 20 years were spent in the North Sea Oil industry starting again in accounting and progressing through tanker operations, crude oil trading to, finally, two and a half years as Commercial negotiator for Shell Oil. Moved to Ilminster area and together with husband Michael set up and ran a successful small hotel for ten years. Now retired. Married with one married daughter. Interests include opera, ballet, theatre, travel, food & wine. Actively involved in the Experience Ilminster group which runs the Ilminster Midsummer Experience. Other voluntary activities include St Margarets hospice, South West Children's Hospice and Friends of Vaughan Lee House.


Palma Bonner

I was born in Dartington, South Devon, many moons ago. I spent some time working as a cashier before meeting my husband Michael, whilst working in a butcher's shop in Totnes. Michael was a butcher and shortly after we married, we moved to London where he had secured a job to run a shop. Our son Clinton, was born in Dulwich the following year.  After eleven years in London, when journeying to South Devon, we stopped in Ilminster and saw a butcher's shop for sale. A few week-end visits later, we decided to make the move and Ilminster has been our home ever since, some 45 years.  Clinton took over the business on Michael's retirement in 2003 and it is the last Butcher's shop in town, employing eight staff. Although officially retired, I continue to work part-time in the business, it keeps me busy. I have been involved in Vaughan Lee House for over twenty years.


Sheena Helliar

I was born and educated in Croydon but after taking a degree in law at Bristol University, I moved to Somerset and have lived in various towns in the county, ever since.  I practiced as a solicitor in Somerset for nearly forty years, firstly as an Assistant, then for tweny-eight years, in partnership with my late husband, in our own firm and finally, as a Consultant. Being a small firm, we had to cover many areas of law but I worked chiefly in the fields of Matrimonial and Family law and of Wills and Probate. Both involved dealing directly with people at difficult times in their lives, listening to their problems and trying to advise and assist them.  Since retiring, I have acted as a Trustee for Age UK Somerset and as a volunteer at Vaughan Lee House. I especially enjoy getting to know the residents and calling in for a chat with some of them. I have now lived in Ilminster for five years and have found it to be a lively and friendly town. I am pleased to be involved with Vaughan Lee, which plays such an important part in the local community.