Care home resident at Renaissance Care’s Wyndwell Care Home in Peterhead, Noreen Sime (84) has a large family of 71, made up of seven children, 19 grandchildren, and their respective partners, and has most recently welcomed 24 greatgrandchildren.

Before lockdown, Noreen was inundated with visits from her extended family, however for the last seven months catch ups have been over Facetime. When restrictions on visitations eased slightly recently, her eldest son was able to meet face to face.

Born in Perth in 1936, Noreen worked as a policy typist. At the young age of 16, her brother Bert introduced her to 17-year-old Bob Sime who was a butcher’s boy at that time. Noreen said it was “love at first sight” and the pair married three years later in 1955.

The couple were happily married for 63 years and went on to raise five boys and two girls – each born in a different place.

After some time as a painter and decorator, Bob Sime signed up for national service and the couple moved to Berlin where they welcomed their first daughter Anne. On Anne’s first birthday, the family went over the border from West to East Germany for a day of shopping where it was much cheaper but because Noreen was so fluent in German, they were followed and arrested. The soldier knew of Scotland and let them go after holding them for a few hours.

Noreen, Bob and Anne moved home to Perth and Bob joined MacKay’s Decorators. Soon after they welcome their eldest son Keith who was born in Dundee, followed by Craig in a hospital in Perth. Now a family of five, Bob got a job in the prison service and the moved to Peterhead where Fay was born at home. Eric was then welcomed to the family in Ellon, Russell at hospital in Peterhead, and then youngest daughter Atholl completed the family in Aberdeen.

Noreen said: “We never planned to have children, they just came along and suddenly we had seven children under the age of ten.”

Over the years the children grew up and blessed Noreen and Bob with 19 grandchildren – with the eldest now 46 and the youngest 23 – and then 24 greatgrandchildren came along to complete the tightknit, happy family. Sadly, Noreen’s husband Bob passed away in January this year.

Noreen’s daughter Fay Beith (60) spoke of what life has been like keeping connected during lockdown. She said: “At first, when my mum moved into the home, we were really worried and thought we had made a bad decision, but she settled in straight away and she’s very happy.

“While we can’t be with her, we know that the staff have become like family to her and it’s a massive weight off our shoulders. We miss her, of course we do, but the staff are the ones that can look after her, better than we can, and they’ve kept her safe throughout the pandemic.

“My brother is her main visitor, but we’ve all been managing to Facetime and stay connected. With a family of 71, my mum isn’t short of people looking to speak to her. The home has been great at facilitating those calls.”

Noreen said: “I have very much been missing my family, however I really enjoy the Facetime calls to keep in touch. It has been great to have outside visits from my son who shares news about the whole family and I’ve had plenty of window visits so it has been lovely.

“My family are all very close and keep in touch, so when one of them is coming to visit, they pass on the message to everyone else and I get lots of updates when I hear from one of them.

“I’ve been well looked after in the home and I’ve made lots of friends here, so life throughout lockdown has been enjoyable. I keep myself busy – we have lots of activities like sing-a-longs, arts and crafts, painting and quizzes and I like to get involved in it all.”

Staff at Renaissance Care’s Wyndwell Care Home in Peterhead have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic to ensure that loved ones remain connected, while getting creative to keep the residents who live there happy, entertained and stimulated with health and wellbeing at the forefront of their work.