DEVOTED husband Mike Keoghan travels around 200 miles a week to be closer to his wife of 58 years after she moved into a care home.

The 78-year-old makes a 53-mile round trip at least four times each week from the couple's Mobberley home to visit wife Joan at Broughton House Veteran Care Village.

Joan, aged 77, lives with dementia and became a permanent resident at the Salford care home after Mike was no longer able to look after her.

Despite his heartbreak at moving Joan to the care home, Mike still sees her each week and has even volunteered at the home to spend more time with her - becoming popular with other residents in the process.

Mike said: "It breaks my heart every day that she is so many miles away, but I know she’s being well looked after in a fantastic care home.

“She is very settled and content, and she enjoys the wellbeing activities and exercises as well as when a singer comes to perform for the residents.

"Spending lots of time at Broughton House helps me overcome the loneliness of being at home without Joan.

Knutsford Guardian: Joan and Mike on a cruise in the Caribbean and Central America in the 1970sJoan and Mike on a cruise in the Caribbean and Central America in the 1970s (Image: Broughton House)

"Naturally, I wish she was at home with me. I really miss her, but I visit very often and I have become a registered volunteer at Broughton House, which means I get to spend lots of time there and go with Joan and other residents on a variety of outings in the home’s minibus.

"I accompany them to places such as local parks and the Imperial War Museum North, and to events such as RHS Flower Shows and special Remembrance Day services, as well as to hospital appointments and shopping trips."

Joan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2017 and Mike became her carer at their home in Mobberley. He continued to look after her there for four years, even after he underwent surgery for a number of issues, including a heart operation.

Then, one day, daughter Julie – one of the couple’s three children – spotted what she thought may be a melanoma on Mike’s nose during a FaceTime call with him from her home in Australia.

Joan went to Broughton House for respite care while Mike underwent surgery to remove the melanoma, spending six weeks there.

Knutsford Guardian: Joan in 1984 in her Dubai police uniformJoan in 1984 in her Dubai police uniform (Image: Broughton House)

The family were so pleased with the care she received, they decided she should move to there permanently, which she did in April 2021, becoming one of the home's first residents of its new Charlie Fox Wing for dementia patients. 

Mike added: “Joan could shuffle around the house and go out in a wheelchair. I was feeding her and dressing and bathing her, but it was at the stage where I could not cope any longer.

"I’d had a shoulder operation too, which also restricted my ability to look after her adequately.

"It was a very hard decision to let her move into full-time care. We were married in August 1965 and had such a wonderful life together, raising three children and then welcoming the arrival of five grandchildren and two great-grandsons.

Knutsford Guardian: L-R Joan with daughters Debbie and Julie in the 1980sL-R Joan with daughters Debbie and Julie in the 1980s (Image: Broughton House)

"I was in tears at night, wondering whether I’d done the right thing. But, as we are both service veterans, I knew it was the right place for Joan.

"I cannot speak highly enough of the place – the staff, the management, the activities and the facilities – they are all amazing.

"There’s a great sense of camaraderie and the new building is excellent. Nothing is too much trouble for the staff."

The couple met at the NAAFI Club in Aldershot during an evening out in the early 1960s while Mike was serving in the Parachute Regiment and Joan was a trainee nurse in the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps, based at the Colchester Military Hospital.

Mike was later posted to Bahrain and Joan to Libya. The couple were married in Joan’s native Penshaw in County Durham in 1965, shortly after she was discharged from service.

Mike continued to serve in the army, for a total of 12 years, on tours of duty in Bahrain, Aden, British Guyana and Malta and training in a number of other countries, including Australia, Malaya, Singapore and Cyprus.

Knutsford Guardian: Joan and Mike at a Captain's Dinner on a Caribbean cruise in 1988Joan and Mike at a Captain's Dinner on a Caribbean cruise in 1988 (Image: Broughton House)

After he was discharged from the army, the couple then lived and worked in Dubai for 14 years. Joan was employed by the police as a driving instructor for women. Mike worked as a senior offshore field medic for Dubai Petroleum, rising to senior training and safety roles in Dubai.

The couple returned permanently to the UK in 1988 when Mike got a job with BP as an offshore safety officer for a new North Sea gas field. He later left the oil industry to spend 15 years as a prison officer before retiring in 2004 at the age of 60.

Joan worked as a social welfare officer and care team leader until she retired at the same time as Mike.

The couple loved to travel – after retiring, they spent eight years living in Queensland, and they have visited many countries.

“We absolutely loved travelling and seeing interesting new places. Over the years we’ve been all over, including trips to South America, Canada, Singapore and Malaysia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, South Africa, Kenya, Hawaii and even the Khyber Pass in Pakistan,” said Mike.

Nowadays, their trips are limited to local places of interest, but the joy of being in the company of the love of his life never wanes for Mike, despite Joan’s condition.

Karen Miller, chief executive of Broughton House, said: “It is an honour and a privilege, for all of us here, to be able to support Mike and Joan. They truly have a remarkable story together and they are an inspiration to everyone they meet.

“Although heart-breaking, we are glad that to be able to offer the comfort and peace of mind to Mike and his daughters and son, that Joan is being well looked after in a loving and supportive environment.”

The care village is currently welcoming an average of two new residents a month, and Mike hopes the couple’s touching story and their experience of the new complex will inspire others to consider Broughton House as a home for their loved ones.