Colchester care home makes aspiring actress’ film wish come true at the age of 89

Care home resident, Dottie Hamilton, has had a near 80 year old dream to feature in a film come true

Care home resident, Dottie Hamilton, has had a near 80 year old dream to feature in a film come true, thanks to team members at her Colchester home. The 89 year old, who dreamed of being an actress, has proven it’s never too late to realise your dream.

Dottie has lived at Alderwood Care Home on Essex Hall Road since September 2022, and has been cast in ‘Brightlingsea Film’, an art house feature film starring local actors and directed by experienced filmmaker, Ray Hayden.

The storyline focuses on the character of Max, a football player for the Regents who secures interest from a professional league team. Dottie plays the role of Max’s grandmother. Filming with Dottie took place at Alderwood Care Home, both inside and in their landscaped gardens.

Dottie’s dreamt of being an actress since the age of ten, and remembers writing to many celebrities asking for signed photos. She didn’t like her name, so when she wrote letters, she signed them off in the name Susan Russell.

Dottie recalls: “One day I received a response – a signed photo from Bing Crosby. My mum thought it was very funny that it was addressed to Susan, but I retorted that it was my stage name!”

Rated ‘Outstanding’ by the CQC, Alderwood Care Home is an award-winning 65-bed home, providing residential, nursing, dementia and end of life care.  Dottie’s wish to appear in a film was one of many on the home’s “wishing tree” created by team members with the aim of making as many of their residents’ wishes come true as possible.

Dottie worked in Marks & Spencer in Colchester for most of her adult life and accepted that she wasn’t going to have a career treading the boards or on the silver screen. But when Laura Birch, the home’s quality and wellbeing manager, asked her if there was a wish she’d like to come true, she knew straight away what she would ask for.

Dottie said: “I didn’t think anything would come of it. When Laura told me I had been cast in a film I thought she was winding me up! On the day of the filming, I felt a bit nervous but as soon as I met Max and Ray, I relaxed. They were so friendly and the acting felt easy and natural. It was a brilliant experience I’ll never forget.”

Dottie added: “I’d happily consider doing more acting work, but in the meantime, I won’t let this go to my head!”

Nikki Leaney, home manager, said: “Dottie is such a character, there’s never a dull day with her! She’s so vivacious, always jolly and telling jokes. She’s quite cheeky and enjoys teasing people, you never know if she is serious. She is also very thoughtful – everyone loves her.

“A big part of life at Alderwood is being part of the community so we were thrilled when Ray said he would be willing to involve Dottie in his film. We always knew Dottie was a star and now everyone else will see it too! We can’t wait to roll out the red carpet for her and watch the film together once it’s been released.”

Ray Hayden, director of Brightlingsea Film, said: “When I saw the appeal on social media asking for help with Dottie’s wish to play a small part in a film, it chimed with me that this is what our project is all about. The result is a wonderful, improvised scene where Dottie’s character gets a visit from her grandson Max. Dottie was brilliant and a total natural – the scene speaks for itself and it has been a privilege to make her wish come true.”

Brightlingsea Film is due to be completed in April 2024 and will be entered into the film festival circuit. To watch Dottie’s scene and to find out more about the film, visit

Brochure Gallery Make a Care Enquiry here Accessibility