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Hosts home comforts


A woman who offered a home from home to more than 1,000 people from all around the world is still in touch with some of them.

Mrs Joan Seager (82) hosted cadets on recess from the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst and foreign students in her three-bedroom Boughton bungalow.

At her current home in Delacy Court, Ollerton, she has thousands of letters and photographs from those grateful for her hospitality.

Mrs Seager, who also arranged more than 10,000 home stays with other hosts, may have stopped hosting in 2003 but is still in touch with former tenants.

“They came into our homes as part of our family from the beginning,” she said.

“We were there for students and cadets and we know we helped them.

“They were too far away from home to take their worries there. It was a home away from home.”

Her first visitor, however, a 19-year-old football player from America, who arrived at the home of Mrs Seager and her late husband, Mr Cyril Seager, in 1976, did not provide the best of starts.

His antics including going missing one night and criticising Mrs Seager’s culinary skills.

“Everything was bigger and better in America,” she said. “He said my cooking wasn’t up to standard.”

That could have put her off but when Mrs Seager was asked by a work colleague at Nottinghamshire County Council to host two German girls on a twinning trip, their stay proved much more successful.

On a pilgrimage to Israel after her husband had died in 1982, Mrs Seager said two Palestinians gave her a new lease of life and the drive to help others through her hosting.

Trouble broke out while the pilgrimage was in Nazareth and the Palestinians risked their lives to help the group return to Caesarea.

Mrs Seager became a representative for The Experiment In International Living, housing people and arranging for others to go to fellow hosts.

She formed the Dukeries Host Association in 1983 and appealed for people to act as hosts.

Mrs Seager was also involved with The Victoria League, which caters for students visiting England.

She became the county director of an offshoot group called Host and through this started hosting Sandhurst cadets from overseas.

Most cadets wanted to stay in London during breaks in their training but the authorities wanted them to see other, more rural parts of the country and Mrs Seager put herself and others forward as hosts.

She went on to deal directly with Sandhurst.

Mrs Seager met Princess Margaret, the then president of The Victoria League, when she was invited to St James’ Palace.

She was presented to the Queen when a cadet from Singapore called Hock asked her to attend the Sovereign’s Parade to mark the end of his training at Sandhurst.

Mrs Seager said she particularly enjoyed seeing Sandhurst cadets gaining in confidence.

Some of those she is in touch with have said they plan to follow her example as a host and do the same thing in their own countries.

Mrs Seager has been to Japan, Algeria and Belgium to stay with people she has helped.

She said one of her proudest moments was winning a Windrush Award for her work in 2000.

She was presented with the Robin Hood Award by the Rotary Club of Sherwood Forest in 1997 and received a painting from Sandhurst in 2003 in recognition of her work.

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