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Steven SmeltAs an international banker, Steven Smelt got to see a lot of the world but he’s more than happy to now be in South Shields and living at Bulmer House in particular.

Steven visited far-flung places such as Hong Kong and the Dominican Republic during his career and spent 35 years living and working in Canada before returning to the UK in 2023.

Having been diagnosed with spinal-related condition, his mobility was suffering and without access to medical support in Canada he decided to return home.

Steven explains: “I had 35 fantastic years in Canada but I was living in Nova Scotia and there was a massive waiting list to see a family doctor so I knew things couldn’t go on as they were.

“I contacted my friend Rob who lives in Sunderland and lived with him for a few weeks before we found Bulmer House, and I loved it instantly.

“I have been made to feel very welcome and have had fantastic help from the NHS, so I am now in a much better place mentally and physically than I was.”

Pain is not something new to Steven because he spent many years in hospital as a very young child due to having Perthes’ disease, a condition which causes limited movement of the hip joint.

However, this didn’t end up holding him back and after leaving school he started working for Lloyds Bank and with an obvious talent, he was soon fast-tracked through various promotions before he moved from retail banking into international banking.

Steven adds: “Lloyds asked me if I would be prepared to work for 12 months anywhere abroad if they asked and I said yes because I thought it would be fun and something a little different.

“I ended up in Canada and one year became 35 years before I knew it!!

Steven left Lloyds and set up his own financial services business, which was highly successful, enabling him to buy a ten-acre horse farm in Ontario.

He adds: “I have always said that having enthusiasm and belief makes good luck and that certainly was the case for me.”

Steven is also enormously proud to have had a famous footballer of the time as his grandfather, Len Smelt who played for Burnley and was part of the team which won the English league championship in 1921.

He was the oldest player to play for Burnley, and many believe the oldest ever to play a league match, at the age of 41.

Steven adds: “There’s a great story about him because he lived in Rotherham and would travel on the train to Burnley to play games and one day the train broke down on the way to the game.

“He ended up running the seven miles to the ground and played a full game and this was later immortalised in a cartoon by the local player.

“I had a tour of Burnley’s ground, and they told me he was the star of the team and even invented the sliding tackle.

“He must have had an impact because when he died his body was taken to the ground so people could pay their respects and effectively lay in state for four days.”

Steven has adjusted well to his new home at Bulmer House and is looking forward to some of the trips we have planned, including a day trip to Scarborough and a five-day holiday in the Isle of Wight.

“Bulmer is a wonderful place and I need to give special mention to the Independent Living Officer Hayley, who is a spectacular young woman.”

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