The seaman who found home at last

83 years-old John Beattie pictured at William Street Residential Home yesterday. 0305JM04
83 years-old John Beattie pictured at William Street Residential Home yesterday. 0305JM04
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Eighty-three-year-old John Beattie has been resident at William Street Residential Home for just two months - but already he says he has found “a home he never had before”.

Having spent his life working in the merchant navy, John said he “travelled round the world two or three times” and “never found a place he could call home”.

The last few years of his life have been tough - which John makes no bones about. “I was made homeless two years ago from the Stella Maris centre in Belfast with just a month’s notice.

“Then the Salvation Army put me up for a year before I moved back to Derry to the Metropole on Bridge Street.”

John said he never felt as if he settled down - that he “didn’t expect people to feel sorry” for him.

Visibly emotional, John said. “When I was moved to William Street I considered myself very lucky. I have felt properly settled for the first time in my life.

“I settled in here quickly. Everything the staff do here is done to make you happy - to keep you comfortable.

“The staff are excellent - I can’t fault them. They made me feel like I had come home.

“My son and daughter are able to come and visit me here every day. I thought - I hoped - this would be my last move.

“I just don’t know what I will do if the home closes.

“We are sitting here not knowing what will happen, just hoping that we will get to stay.

“And for the staff, we are worried about them too. What will become of them?

“Will they get to keep their jobs?”

John was one of a number of residents who spoke to the ‘Journal’ yesterday about their fears for the future and their hopes that they will get to stay in the place they now call home.