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Resident Spotlight: Sara H.

Born in Edgbaston, Birmingham, England, Sara was the fourth of five children of Irish-born parents. When World War II broke out, the family was on holiday at the seaside in Hastings. A young Sara, about 3 1/2 years old, remembers the family quickly packing up and traveling to Dublin, leaving her father behind. Her father, who was an accountant for the British Army, would visit during holidays, but it was hard to be separated from him.

After the war, the family returned to England but not their house, as it had suffered bomb damage. Living in several temporary homes in the Birmingham area, the family moved to Stratford upon Avon, where her parents stayed until they retired to Devon. Sara and her siblings attended boarding school – Sara went to Cheshire, which unbeknownst to her then, was good preparation for community living later in life.

Sara enrolled in a teachers’ training college in Liverpool and made some lovely friends there, with whom she is still in touch with today. Sara was in Liverpool just as The Beetles were beginning their career, although she was not even aware of them! Sara says, “Imagine my loss of prestige with my children when a good friend from college came to visit us and regaled them with tales of her having seen The Beatles at that time!”

After college, Sara taught sixth grade for three years in St. Albans, Hertfordshire, until a friend who had traveled to the U.S. a few years earlier encouraged her to apply for a teaching position at her school in McLean, Virginia. Sara agreed and landed a position as a third-grade teacher. During the summer break of year one, Sara traveled across the U.S., and then spent another couple of years teaching at the same school. As fate would have it, just as she made the decision to return to England, a fellow teacher (and talented painter), John H, persuaded her that a better plan was to marry him! Despite the purchase of an airline ticket back to England, Sara said “yes” and three months later they were wed. The couple spent the first two months of their honeymoon on Deer Isle, Maine. John was then offered a grant allowing time to be spent in Europe visiting schools and painting. The couple sailed to England, where they visited schools before spending the rest of the year in the south of Portugal. John and Sara were “adopted” by the locals, as they were included in family picnics and fishing boat trips.

A year after returning to the U.S., John and Sara welcomed daughter Claire, who then became a big sister to two more boys, Andrew and Alexander. The family was complete and settled into suburban life in McLean. Both John and Sara returned to their love of teaching.

Sara and John enjoyed traveling, which would include visiting relatives abroad in Ireland and England, including son Andrew, who is currently living in Bangkok. Most summer family vacations were enjoyed on the Outer Banks.

John’s sudden passing two years ago at the age of 89, along with a COVID-dominated year, were difficult for Sara; and the catalyst for making a change. Sara and her son Alexander began the search for Sara’s next chapter. Once on the campus of Kensington Park, it was unanimously agreed KP was the place to be. In addition to the beautiful campus, friendly staff and residents she has come to know, Sara felt this was the right place for her. She is grateful to be here and close to her family.

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