Reader John Shipman and his wife Brenda from Great Malvern have enjoyed a long friendship with a family in Sweden thanks to Malvern’s former Convent of the Holy Name.

He is the latest person to respond to our appeal for memories of the convent which was established in Ranelagh Road in 1887 and was home to 250 nuns in its heyday before finally closing in 1989.

Our appeal is being made in association with conservation specialists Broadway Heritage who have just converted the Grade Two listed building into new homes for the 21st Century and are busy building fourteen new homes in the grounds.

John’s story begins back in 1974 when on arriving at the Great Malvern Priory for Sunday matins he was introduced to Birgitta and Berit, students from Oresbro, Sweden, who were spending a term at the convent as kitchen assistants and ancillary housekeepers.

“They had visited two other priory members' homes for Sunday lunch and now it was our turn to play hosts the following Sunday and we have been united ever since,” he said.

“They have come to stay with us on many occasions and we have travelled extensively in Sweden and have attended their family occasions, including a wedding and a silver wedding,” said John.

But his first links with the convent went back to the 1960s when the nuns attended services at Great Malvern Priory and other local churches.

“Their compassion, care and counselling to those in need during home visits were of immense value and appreciated by so many,” he recalled.

“Brenda and I have continued our association with the order by visiting their convent and guesthouse at Oakwood in Derby, a haven of peace,” he said.

Broadway Heritage managing director Michael Hodges said he had been quite surprised at the response to the appeal which had helped to build up a fascinating picture of convent life in the 1970s and 1980s.