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Home From Sea C e l e b r a t i n g

y e a r s

o f

The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society


This be the verse you grave for me: Here he lies where he long’d to be; Home is the sailor, home from sea, And the hunter home from the hill. Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894), Requiem


In memory of George Miskin (1928-2015) Chairman of The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society from 1991 to 2009 and Trustee from 1989 Home from Sea 150 Years of The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society

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Home from Sea 150 Years of The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society


CONTENTS Contents

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Foreword by HRH The Princess Royal

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Acknowledgements 8 Prologue

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PART ONE - THE STORY AND THE PLACES Chapter 1 The Founding of the Society and The Belvedere Home at Erith: 1865–1959

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Chapter 2 The New Belvedere Home, Erith: 1959–78

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Chapter 3 The Royal Alfred Home, Eastbourne: 1965–2006

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Chapter 4 Weston Acres House, Banstead, and the Royal Alfred Housing Association: 1967–2013

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Chapter 5 Belvedere House, Holly Lane, Banstead: 1978–2001

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Chapter 6 Belvedere House, Weston Acres, Banstead: 2001–13

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PART TWO - THE PEOPLE AND THE MEANS Chapter 7 Our People

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Chapter 8 The Society’s Mission

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ChApter 9 Daily Life at The Royal Alfred

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Chapter 10 Care

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Chapter 11 The Residents

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Chapter 12 Friends of the Society

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PART THREE - THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE Chapter 13 2013 and 2014

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Chapter 14 ‘Looking Beyond the Horizon’, by Captain Duncan Glass OBE, MNM, Chairman

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Index

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Home from Sea 150 Years of The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society

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PATRON:

HRH The Princess Royal

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Home from Sea 150 Years of The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society


FOREWORD

Home from Sea 150 Years of The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society

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Acknowledgements The 150th Anniversary of The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society is the most fitting occasion for a book to be written to commemorate not only the occasion itself but also to record much of life within the Society that has occurred since the last book, ‘The Royal Alfred Story’, which was written by A. Stewart McMillan on the occasion of the Society’s 100th Anniversary in 1965. John Allan, this book’s lead author and primary researcher, has done a wonderful job of wading through so much written material, as well as interviewing many residents and members of staff and volunteers both past and present, which has brought the history of ‘the Royal Alfred’ to vibrant life, a fitting tribute to the Society and to John himself. John, who is from Oxfordshire, originally studied an MA in History at Trinity College Oxford. After completing military service, John qualified and practised as a solicitor in London from 1959 to 1999, the majority of that time with a firm specialising in Admiralty (Maritime) Law. In December 2012 he was awarded an MA by the University of Greenwich on the successful conclusion of a two-year part-time course in Maritime History. John has also been a Freeman of the Company of Watermen and Lightermen of the River Thames for more than 40 years. It is most appropriate to record our grateful thanks to all those who have allowed their stories to be included in the book and to the families of loved ones who have ‘sailed to another shore’. David Gundry, Vice Chairman of the Society, has led a special team giving able assistance to John Allan. They include Captain Malcolm Lowle, who has not only been the prime copy checker, but also the lead researcher of original photographs and documents that have added so much colour and animation to the story itself. Mrs Margaret Brazier, with her fifty year plus knowledge of the Society, has a prodigious memory which has been so helpful as we have sought to bring ‘life’ to the sometimes formal wording of the research material. Captain Tony Braithwaite, a Vice President of the Society and former long-serving Trustee, has also provided invaluable support and is a fount of knowledge.

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Home from Sea 150 Years of The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society

A special thank you also goes to Commodore Ian Gibb, for providing a much-needed and impartial ‘second pair of eyes’ to proofread the book during the design stages. The writing of this book would not have been possible without the enthusiastic support of the Chairman, Captain Duncan Glass, and the Trustee Board of the Society. The Chief Executive, Commander Brian Boxall-Hunt, has been a stalwart in supporting, advising and enabling it all to happen. We are also indebted to the Maritime Charities Group for allowing us to use information from their most recent research. It is with a sense of pride that our Patron, HRH The Princess Royal, has graciously given her endorsement and has provided the Foreword to the book. In conclusion and certainly by no means least, it is a pleasure to record our sincere thanks to the PR and Communications Agency, Acceleris, and especially to Charley Durham as a co-author and for managing the production of the book, including editing and indexing, ably assisted by David Gatehouse. Our thanks also go to the graphic design team and printing suppliers, Rebus Design and Harrogate Printing.


Home from Sea 150 Years of The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society

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1857

1864

Belvedere House in Erith, Kent, is purchased

1857

1864

Business and shipping interests start raising funds and resolve that “a Hospital be established for Worn-out and Disabled Merchant Seamen”

Prologue

A sudden outpouring of philanthropy For many centuries ship-owners in general and British ship-owners in particular had typically been little concerned for the welfare of their seamen, whether afloat or ashore. Their priority was to keep costs to a minimum so that they could tender for cargoes at low prices. This meant low wages and harsh working conditions for the men. Caption:

Below left - an early Royal Alfred resident, photographed in 1906

Caption:

Below right - the Chatham Chest can be seen at the Historic Dockyard, Chatham

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In days gone by, British seafarers usually came from seafaring families and commercial ports, or at least within a small radius of those ports. They were a race apart, fiercely independent and accustomed to fend for themselves, but seemingly all at sea when on shore. They were notorious for an almost total absence of foresight and consideration of the future. They went to sea very young; conditions on board were hard and the pay was poor. They spent but little time on shore between voyages. Few had families or homes to go to. Their wages tended to be quickly dissipated. Most were unfit for further service after they turned 40. This was late to establish a home and have a family. All, even those who secured employment, found it difficult to settle ashore; seamen were usually single (even though reputed to have a wife in every port!) and poorly educated, besides being often worn out by illness, disease and accidents suffered whilst at sea. The ways and manners of society on shore were unfamiliar and uncongenial to them.

Home from Sea 150 Years of The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society

What happened to the men while they were on shore or after they had left the sea was of little or no concern to ship-owners or to society as a whole. Hitherto this attitude had been general. Public and private provision for the out-of-work, orphans, the sick and the disabled was limited to the workhouse, a few hospitals and asylums and occasional personal generosity. There were exceptions, in particular for men who had served in the Army or Royal Navy. In the aftermath of the heavy toll on mariners caused by typhus and injury during the 16th Century wars with Spain, disabled seamen petitioned Queen Elizabeth I for relief and maintenance, and around 1590 a fund was set up to pay compensation for wounds and injuries sustained in action or on duty and pensions to permanently disabled seamen and the widows of those killed in action. This fund was financed by contributions of six old pence (roughly £4.00 in terms of today’s purchasing power) a month deducted from all seamen’s pay, which the Government had to increase so they could afford it. The money was kept in a massive iron-strapped timber chest in the naval dockyard at Chatham and the fund acquired the name of the Chatham Chest. In 1802 the number of pensioners had risen to 5,205. In 1803 the Chest was merged with the Royal Greenwich Hospital and was wound up in 1814.


1865

Because there was originally little differentiation between the seamen who served on Royal Navy vessels and those who served on merchantmen, there was a strong feeling among merchant seamen that they were eligible for relief from the Chest. The Admiralty however always maintained that the needs of personnel serving in the Royal Navy had priority. In 1594 the Elizabethan sea dog Sir John Hawkins, who made a fortune from piracy and plundering ships and cities in the Spanish West Indies, founded the Hawkins Hospital in Chatham, the world’s oldest surviving naval charity. King Charles II founded the Royal Hospital at Chelsea in 1682 as a home for soldiers unfit for duty because of injury or old age. In 1694 Queen Mary II founded the Royal Greenwich Hospital by giving the Royal Estate at Greenwich as the site of a home for seamen and marines retired because of old age or infirmity. The first pensioners were admitted in 1705. In 1741 the philanthropic sea captain Thomas Coram established the Foundling Hospital in Bloomsbury, London, for “the education and maintenance of exposed and deserted young children”. Around the beginning of the 19th Century a change in the public attitude gradually developed. Extreme hardship and poverty were especially rife among seafarers as a result of the deep economic depression, popular disturbances and severe unemployment that quickly followed the end of the wars with France in 1815 and the boom in trade and manufacturing and the mercantile and naval supremacy that Britain had been enjoying. It is estimated that 125,000 seamen were laid off. This obvious distress could not be ignored by society. In the absence of government action, private individuals took it upon themselves to try to alleviate the plight of the sick, injured, elderly and poverty-stricken. The influence of evangelical Christianity combined with increasing prosperity as trade improved aroused a new social conscience, and this led to initiatives to alleviate misfortune and improve living conditions. Early examples of this new philanthropy include the Seamen’s Hospital Society, founded in 1821 to accommodate and treat destitute and sick seamen on converted naval vessels moored in the Thames, and the Royal Watermen’s Asylum, which

1867

Following renovations, the first residents move in to the ‘Belvedere Institution’ on New Year’s Day

1867

1865

The independent committee set up to administer the Institution meets for the first time on 5th May, making this the Royal Alfred’s official ‘birthday’

was founded in 1843 by wealthy members of the Company of Watermen and Lightermen of the River Thames as purpose-built almshouses in Penge, South London, for “aged and decayed” watermen. Eventually even the long overlooked plight of retired merchant seamen came to the notice of the general public. On 17th July 1857 “a large and influential meeting” was held at the Mansion House in the City of London at which a resolution for the establishment of a hospital for “Wornout and Disabled Merchant Seamen” was carried unanimously and with great acclaim. The eventual outcome was the formation of this Society and the establishment of its original Home at Belvedere House in Erith on the south side of the Thames in 1865. Much like the work of the seafarer, the Society’s work has never been easy. It has had to continually adapt and improve amid the multiple challenges it has faced over the years as the maritime and social scenes and indeed the very nature of seafaring changed. The Society has had to cope with changing demands for care and indeed changing standards of care in retirement, the State’s intervention in the provision of welfare and care and the detailed regulation this has entailed, all the while championing and encouraging the cause of the welfare of former seafarers of all kinds, no longer only merchant seamen. This dedicated anniversary book is written to record the progress and remarkable success of the Society in the 150 years since the foundation of its mission.

Author’s note:

From the outset an important part of the Society’s objectives was the provision of benefit by means of pensions to aged and poor former seafarers while they were able to continue to live in their homes or with relatives. Potential beneficiaries were identified by the Society’s voluntary agents based in all the principal seaports in Great Britain and Ireland and, provided their case and credentials satisfied the Society’s strict requirements as to age, state of health, means and circumstances generally, the agent would submit the man’s application to the Society’s General Secretary for consideration by the Board. As noted below, the Society handed over this by then much reduced side of its work to the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society in 1996. The Society also acted through, or as the trustee of, a number of separate funds such as the Royal Alfred Veterans’ Benevolent Fund, the Royal Alfred Samaritan Fund and the War Fund. These activities played a greater or lesser part in the story of the Society, but partly because they have for one reason or another now ceased and partly for reasons of space they will be given only incidental attention in these pages.

Home from Sea 150 Years of The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society

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1868

1869

The Suez Canal opens

1868

1869

HRH Prince Alfred becomes the first Patron and the name of the Society changes to ‘The Royal Alfred Aged Merchant Seamen’s Institution’, a name to be retained for 82 years

The story and the places Part 1

Chapter 1

The Founding of the Society and The Belvedere Home at Erith: 1865-1959

Our story begins on Friday 17th July 1857 in the Mansion House, then as now the official residence of the Lord Mayor of the City of London, where a “large and influential” meeting was held to consider a proposition by the Shipwrecked Fishermen & Mariners’ Royal Benevolent Society (hereafter the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society) that “a Hospital be established for Worn-out and Disabled Merchant Seamen”. CAPTION:

Prospectus for the Hospital

The meeting was chaired by the then Lord Mayor, Alderman Sir Quested Finnis, and there was an impressive turn-out of 600 people, including 400 master mariners, seamen, senior Royal Navy officers and Greenwich Hospital pensioners. In the Society’s archives there is a pamphlet containing

the Prospectus for the Hospital and a report of the meeting’s proceedings. Some of this is well worth quoting. The proposal states, for example, that: “It is a fact that England is the only maritime country of any consequence that has no national provision for her Merchant Seamen; no provision for the men by whose skill and courage her vast commerce is conducted across the mighty deep, and who are the main instruments of her greatness; no link, as is now proposed, to bind to their country those brave and hardy men, by whose toil her Merchants have become Princes, and her Shipowners and Manufacturers loaded with wealth; [and] no place of refuge when destitute and incapacitated to toil at sea, either from old age or by some of the casualties to which they are so pre-eminently exposed.” These were lofty words, as was then the fashion, but true nonetheless and not without effect. In advance of the meeting, the Chairman of the Merchant Marine Protection Association, a Mr Engledue, had written to The Times on 3rd June 1857 drawing attention to the “mass of [the] seafaring population - 300,000 hardy, patient, and enduring men”.

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PART 1 The Story and The Places


1887

1876

Alexander Graham-Bell makes first successful phone call

He went on to comment:

“It would hardly be credited by foreigners that England… has no provision for her worn-out sailors to whom she owes so much…and [who] are allowed, when old and helpless, or when from any other cause they become unable to endure the arduous labours and hardship of sea life, to be absorbed in the pauper portion of the country.”

Great Britain celebrates the Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee

1887

1876

He also pointed out that there was a large sum of money known as the Mercantile Marine Fund which was formed out of annual collections from various marine bodies. In 1856, this contained £443,000, including £353,000 as ‘light dues’, so called as they were meant for the building and maintenance of British lighthouses. At the end of 1856 there was a surplus of £165,000 in available funds. Mr Engledue argued that lighthouses should be funded by the nation, in which event upwards of £400,000 a year “might justly be applied to the support of our worn-out and disabled sailors”, and if that was refused at the very least the excess income should be spent on constructing the necessary hospital buildings. He also called on the Government to fund the building works, in return for the merchant seamen contributing for so many years towards Greenwich Hospital via the Chatham Chest, from which they received no benefit. After the Society had been formed it made out a case for a grant out of the fund then representing the contents of the Chatham Chest. The Government declined to help, but fortunately other sources of income were not wanting.

Here is a summary of the Resolutions that were carried unanimously at the meeting on 17th July 1857: 1 The meeting considers it is expedient that a hospital should be established as a place of refuge for the worn-out mariner of all grades of the mercantile marine when aged and disabled and that a scheme of out-pensions should be grafted on it to assist those who may prefer to remain with their friends; 2 A building be raised on the banks of the Thames within the Port of London to be called ‘The Royal Hospital for Worn-out and Disabled Merchant Seamen’ and prepared for the reception of 500 persons and commenced as soon as there is a fair prospect of £50,000 being subscribed; 3 The meeting views with much satisfaction the donation of £5,000 by the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society towards establishing such a hospital and pledges itself to use every exertion to carry out this object; [and] 4 A deputation [should] be appointed to ascertain how far assistance may be expected from the Board of Trade or the Government.

PART 1 The Story and The Places

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1896

1896

The Olympic Games are revived in Greece

CAPTION: Top left - oil painting of the first Belvedere House

CAPTION:

Below right - drawing of Belvedere House from the original Prospectus cover

At the meeting the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society led the way with a donation of £5,000, and a further £1,070 was raised by numerous ‘subscribers’, which included individuals and institutions. Thereafter fundraising and the search for a suitable site proceeded disappointingly slowly, despite the enthusiasm shown at the 1857 meeting. No further donations of any consequence seem to have been received and enquiries to the Government fell on deaf ears. The Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society did not give up, however, and on 28th May 1864 succeeded in purchasing a large house called Belvedere Mansion and 24 acres of parkland at Erith on the Kent shore of the Thames which would be suitable for conversion into the Hospital envisaged in the Resolutions.

On the 28th April 1865, The Times reported that the Lord Mayor had on the day before presided over another public meeting at the Mansion House attended by “a goodly number of merchants, bankers, ship-owners, members of Parliament and naval men” for the purpose of “establishing a hospital similar to that at Greenwich for worn-out and disabled merchant seamen of all grades”. It was also reported that “the mansion of the late Sir Culling Eardley, Bt, at Erith…had already been purchased for the proposed hospital and efforts were now being made to establish the Institution on a permanent footing and commensurate with the necessities of the case”. The proposition was unanimously approved and the choice of Belvedere House was commended as “being visible from the Thames by seamen on voyages to and from distant climes, bearing the commerce which [makes] our name as a nation famous all over the world”. In archive notes written in 1983, Captain R.J.F. (Dick) Riley, House Governor of Belvedere House from 1961 to 1978, described the site of Belvedere House as superb, being on an outcrop a few hundred feet above sea level and overlooking the Thames about a mile away, commanding an uninterrupted view of the river from Woolwich Reach three miles west to Erith Reach to the east.

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PART 1 The Story and The Places


1901

1903

The first Nobel Prizes are awarded

1903

1901

The Wright brothers make first flight at Kitty Hawk

DID YOU KNOW

According to newspaper reports1, the Belvedere district, now part of the London Borough of Bexley (formerly the Muncipal Borough of Erith), owes its birth and name to Belvedere Mansion, the Royal Alfred’s first home between 1867 and 1959.

However, not everyone agreed with the proposal or the choice of site. On 28th April 1865 one gentleman read the report of the meeting in that morning’s Times and immediately penned a long letter to the Editor, under the name ‘JUSTITIA’. He said the proposals could only result in a “second Greenwich Hospital”, with all its old inherent defects. Instead of another ”asylum” for old seamen - costly, unsuited to present days, demoralising to the residents - he asserted that a pension of around £10 a year would be much better for the seaman and much less costly to the charity than any residential facility. He also suggested that the Greenwich Hospital resident pensioners should be discharged and provided with external support; those who were sick or too infirm to look after themselves could be accommodated on board the Seamen’s Hospital Society’s vessel Dreadnought moored off Greenwich, thus making the hospital building - “that magnificent palace” - available for much better use

as an infirmary and training hospital serving both the Royal Navy and the merchant marine. He also raised the old long-standing complaint that the merchant seamen continued to receive no benefit from the contributions to Greenwich Hospital they had made by deduction from their wages. On 8th May Captain Francis Lean, the Secretary of the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society, wrote to the editor of The Times responding to ‘JUSTITIA’’s criticisms and some public misconceptions about the Belvedere establishment. These included that the “mistake” of Greenwich Hospital was to be repeated by founding a great almshouse for merchant seamen and forcing them into it whether they liked it or not. Not so: Belvedere was to be “the last retreat of aged men worn out in their country’s service with no prospect but a workhouse, no natural ties to soothe the evenings of their days and to whom a pension compared with comfort of such a home would be valueless”. Further, to claim that the accommodation at Belvedere would be inadequate overlooked the fact that there was ample space on the site for expansion and that it was not intended to receive more than 500 men, in the hope that similar retreats would be established at Liverpool and other places round the coast.

CAPTION:

This is Local London newspaper article published in January 2000

There was also initially strong opposition from the Mercantile Marine Service Association, based in Liverpool, which felt that it, rather than the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society, was the proper representative of the merchant seamen and so the most appropriate body for establishing the proposed Institution. However, after voicing in the press its strong criticisms and better credentials, the Association decided to go along with the original proposals.

Source – This Is Local London

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PART 1 The Story and The Places

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1908

1910

The Government Old Age Pension Act comes into effect

1908

1910

Union of South Africa is established

The Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society bought Belvedere House for £12,148. In line with the decisions taken at the meeting at the Mansion House on 28th April 1865, an Institution wholly independent of the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society was formed for the purpose of providing for worn-out and disabled merchant seamen. On 17th February 1865 the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society executed a Declaration of Trust vesting the Belvedere Estate in trust for the newly formed body. This Trust Deed also set out its original Constitution. The independent committee set up to administer the Institution met for the first time on 5th May 1865. This date is treated as the official birthday of the Institution now named The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society. The Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society did not only hand over Belvedere House and its extensive grounds to the new Institution; it also made a donation of £5,000, plus £7,000, roughly equivalent to the balance of the purchase money for the House, as a loan to be repaid at 4% interest “as the young institution prospered”. Prosper it did, up to a point; the £7,000 was fully repaid in 1869, and in another instance of generosity the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society released the Institution from having to pay the interest due upon the loan, amounting to £1,155. The Institution applied to Government for financial help towards this worthy cause. For example, on 16th August 1865 Paymaster Francis Lean, RN, the Hon. Secretary of the Institution, wrote to the President of the Board of Trade pleading among other reasons the entitlement of merchant seamen to compensation for the contributions they had fruitlessly made to the Greenwich Hospital, and the merits of providing benefits to offset the advantages of entering the Merchant Service in the United States, where there were several institutions for aged seamen, despite which no assistance was forthcoming from Government sources. He received the Board of Trade’s reply in a letter dated 11th November 1865 to the effect that he had been misinformed as to the amount of the available balance in the Mercantile Marine Fund (formerly

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PART 1 The Story and The Places

DID

The official YOU birthday of KNOW The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society is 5th May. the Chatham Chest) and what did remain was to be further reduced in building new lighthouses. Furthermore, annual expenses were increasing and contributions to the Fund were diminishing. So in effect, said the Board haughtily, “there is not now and in all probability will not be any surplus from the Mercantile Marine Fund”. The Admiralty even refused the Institution’s request to give it the furnishings from the Greenwich Hospital that were surplus to that Hospital’s requirements. This meant that the Institution’s intention of eventually providing accommodation for 500 seamen in Belvedere House was not yet possible, and there was room for only 90 to 100. Likewise, the number of out-pensioners had to be much fewer than intended. However, the Institution received from the outset a steady flow of income in the way of donations from private individuals and corporations, subscriptions, proceeds of fundraising bazaars and festival dinners, amateur theatricals, house-to-house collections and so forth, as well as legacies. In 1866 Belvedere House was fitted out for its new purpose and additional wings were built out at the back. There were open wards on the ground floor and individual cabins on the upper floors. Meanwhile, the Institution began to select the first residents and suitable candidates for receiving pensions to help them live comfortably at home. Applications for places at Belvedere were received in large numbers. To cope with this, rigorous screening was applied: to qualify for accommodation, applicants had to have had at least 21 years of service in any rank of the mercantile marine of Great Britain and Ireland, be sponsored, reasonably able-bodied and at least 60 years of age. In December 1866 the first elections of residents and out-pensioners were


1912

1912

The Titanic sinks in the North Atlantic Ocean after hitting an iceberg

held and the Home opened on New Year’s Day 1867. Twenty residents were admitted: seven masters, three mates, one quartermaster and nine seamen, ranging in age from 61 to 80, and more than half of them having each spent more than 50 years at sea. The first out-pensioners numbered six, with an age range from 60 to 77.

All residents were required to wear the Institution’s uniform, described by one resident as “a blue reefing jacket, vest [i.e. waistcoat] and trousers, gilt buttons and foul anchor and BELVEDERE thereon”, with a round blue hat, later a naval peaked cap. In 1887 the uniform cost about £2; by 1965 this had risen to about £12. It was very unusual in those days for merchant seamen to wear any sort of uniform but pensioners living in the naval Greenwich Hospital and the army’s Royal Hospital at Chelsea all wore a distinctive uniform so there was nothing strange in this also being the case at Belvedere. Until 30 years ago, 99 per cent of residents had all of their clothing provided by the Home, as they could not afford to pay for this themselves. Times have changed since then; residents are able to provide their own clothing, apart from one who wears the Home’s signature blazer and other items.

CAPTION:

Left – residents in the parlour at old Belvedere House

CAPTION:

Below right – early resident dressed in the Institution’s uniform of the time, photographed around 1906

By today’s standards the facilities at Belvedere House were minimal. The rooms were high and difficult to heat (there was of course no central heating). The flagstone floors were often wet, according to the Society’s historian of those days. There was a room in the basement popular with the residents, which had a tortoise stove that could be stoked red hot and where the atmosphere, aggravated by heavy smoking, was often asphyxiating. The food was adequate but monotonous and hardly appetizing by modern standards. A typical ‘menu’ based on the standard laid down for catering in merchant vessels is given in Chapter 9. The residents, being all seamen from similar backgrounds, enjoyed a good element of familiarity and companionship. However, the Institution insisted on conformity with strict “Rules for the Government of the House”; there was a daily timetable including prayers and Divine Service every Sunday.

PART 1 The Story and The Places

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1915

Soldiers billeted in the Belvedere District given permission to perform military drills in the grounds of the Institution

1914

1914

1915

World War I begins

CAPTION:

Oil painting of Prince Alfred, which currently hangs in Trinity House

In 1868 the fortunes of the Institution were boosted by Captain HRH Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, RN, the second son of Queen Victoria, accepting the office of Patron of the Institution, which thereupon changed its name with his permission from the ‘Belvedere Institution for Worn-out and Disabled Merchant Seamen’ to ‘The Royal Alfred Aged Merchant Seamen’s Institution’ by which it was known until 1950. Prince Alfred was a serving officer of the Royal Navy. He had been chosen in 1862 to become King of Greece, but this was blocked by the British Government, so he stayed in the Royal Navy, being described by contemporaries as being devoted to his profession, a complete master of his duties and unusually skilled in naval tactics. In 1868 he was on a round-the-world cruise in command of HMS Galatea2 when an attempt was made on 12th March to assassinate him while he was attending a function to raise funds for the Sailors’ Home in Sydney. He was shot in the back at close range, but the bullet missed the spine and went round the ribs before lodging at the front of the abdomen. He soon recovered, resumed command and returned to England in April. The people of Sydney voted for a public subscription to build a monument in testimony of their gratitude at the recovery of the Prince and this led to the construction of the Royal Alfred Hospital in that city. One might say that he therefore had excellent credentials for the role of Patron of the Institution. He rose to be made an Admiral of the Fleet in June 1893 but in August of the same year he succeeded his uncle as Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in the then German Empire and left the Royal

Navy. He did not however relinquish his position as Patron of the Institution. When he died on 30th July 1900, shortly before his mother Queen Victoria, he was succeeded as Patron by the Duke of York and Cornwall (later King George V), the son of Edward Prince of Wales who became King Edward VII on the death of Queen Victoria on 22nd January 1901. It appears from the records that Prince Alfred’s wife the Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia (after whom Marie biscuits are named) was also a Royal Patron from 1876 until her death in 1914. The Institution was sufficiently heartened by the conferment of Royal Patronage to petition in 1869 for the grant of a Royal Charter, but this was refused. It was not until 1950 that HM King George VI granted the Institution a Royal Charter of incorporation as ‘The Royal Alfred Merchant Seamen’s Society’. The author thinks it useful and appropriate to go into such detail about the way The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society came into existence. It gives something of a flavour of the time, and illustrates the high-minded motives of its founders, the means they adopted and the mixed response they received, from the indifference and even hostility of the Government and the Admiralty, to the sympathy and generosity of private individuals. Noteworthy, in retrospect, was the absence from the Institution’s objects of an exclusively Christian ethos and the promotion of Christianity, which would have been quite usual in those evangelical times. It is doubtful whether the founders appreciated that this would avoid the difficulties such objects could cause in modern times to the development and even practicable existence of many charities established in past centuries. That having been said, the work of the Institution was laid on religious, namely Church of England, foundations, with a chaplain appointed to hold a service every Sunday and to visit the sick wards at least once a week. As another early resident wrote to a friend, “the means of grace are amply provided”.

Two Trinity House vessels have been named in honour of HMS Galatea, the first in 1868 and the other, more recently, in 2007

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PART 1 The Story and The Places


1917

King George’s Fund for Sailors formed - now Seafarers UK - a generous benefactor to the Society since that time

The Church has long taken an interest in the Society’s work providing for the welfare of seafarers and has shown concern about its finances. An early and highly notable example of this was in the late 1880s, when the Society received a substantial donation for thousands of pounds from the Bishop of London – a substantial gift for those times and one of the most generous single donations received by the Society that year. Until the outbreak of the First World War on 4th August 1914, life at Belvedere House continued almost unchanged. The residents were former merchant seafarers selected in the same way; they were mostly aged over 70 when admitted and their number stayed at around 90. The out-pensioners numbered about 350. The rules at the Home remained the same, as did the standards of living, food and accommodation. The residents’ behaviour was (reportedly) good, apart from individual lapses, usually due to drunkenness, which in the rules was described as “that disgraceful vice, so contrary to order and decency”. The residents’ health seems to have been generally good, age and all other things considered. There were special hospital wards for the sick and infirm. Some residents became what was in those days termed ‘senile’ and in serious cases there was nothing to be done except transfer them to a lunatic asylum. It should go without saying, but care provision in the late 1800s and early 1900s for people living with what is now correctly termed dementia was very different from what it is today.

1919

The Society establishes a Samaritan Fund to assist serving sailors unable to work due to long-term illness

1919

1917

After the First World War began there was initially little change in conditions at the Home. The medical officer was called up for military service and was replaced by a locum. The residents’ Christmas treat, with six gallons of rum laid on, was provided as usual. In 1915 Queensland sent gifts of foodstuffs to make up for a general reduction in supplies and, more significantly perhaps, the grounds were rented to the War Office for military exercises instead of being let to local farmers for grazing. In June 1916 reality hit with a vengeance: the Home was requisitioned by the Ministry of Munitions to house workers in munitions factories in the Erith area. Under an Agreement dated 15th June 1916 between Vickers

CAPTION:

A group of early Royal Alfred residents relaxing in the gardens of Belvedere House, photographed around 1906

Limited and the Institution, Vickers leased the Trafalgar Hotel right beside the Thames at Greenwich, which is still there now as the busy and popular Trafalgar Tavern, to the Institution from the 11th November 1915 at the yearly rent of a peppercorn (a nominal rent) if demanded.

PART 1 The Story and The Places

19


Schwarzer Donnerstag im Dow Jones Industrial Average, 1929 400

1929

300

The Wall Street Crash marks the beginning of a ten year great depression for all Western industrialised countries

1926

100

Okt

Jan

Apr

Jul

1929

Okt

Jan

Apr

Jul

Okt

1930

1926

1929

First inmates are admitted to the Royal Alfred’s newly established Infirm Home

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CAPTION:

Residents welcome HRH Prince George on his official visit to open the extension to the Infirmary in 1933

Under an Agreement of the same date the Institution leased Belvedere House to Vickers for one year and thereafter until terminated from 11th November 1915 at the yearly rent of £400 in order to house their workmen and/or families. In practice the ‘workmen’ were all women. In mid-winter 1915-16 the residents and staff of Belvedere House were accordingly relocated at the complete expense of Vickers, rent, rates and taxes free, to the Trafalgar Hotel. It is easy enough now to visualise 100 people in its bars but not so easy to work out how it could accommodate 100 residents, sharing just the one bath! However, in the words of A. Stewart McMillan in his book ‘The Royal Alfred Story’ written to mark the Society’s Centenary in 1965, “these difficulties were surmounted and matters were amicably settled”. He does not say how. One little matter is not mentioned by Mr

McMillan: Vickers pledged that while they were administering Belvedere Mansion it would not be allowed to become verminous, but in fact it was found, to the surprise of the Institution if not of the inmates, to be already infested with vermin before the munitions girls moved in. The residents and staff had to remain, however uncomfortably and inconveniently, in the Trafalgar Hotel until 1919. They would presumably have

20

PART 1 The Story and The Places

been permitted to use the nearby Greenwich Park for recreation, even though this must have been a poor substitute for their own private and spacious grounds at Belvedere. In the meantime there were developments which proved to be extremely helpful to the Society both after the war and up to the present day. In 1917, The Sailors’ Fund, later renamed King George’s Fund for Sailors and today known as Seafarers UK, was inaugurated, with the purpose of making grants to marine charities. A first grant of £1,650 was made to the Society in January 1918. Later that year the Institution relaxed its byelaws so that “deserving and necessitous cases of British Merchant Seamen and their widows” who did not fully qualify for benefit as “retired mariners” under the byelaws might be considered for allowances or pensions, thus opening the way for King George’s Fund for Sailors to make grants to the Institution to be used for that specific purpose. At the end of 1919 Belvedere House was derequisitioned and once the property had been restored to its pre-war condition the residents and staff moved back into the Home. Change was in the air. In 1922 the process of converting the open wards (except the sick wards) into one-man cabins began. Electric lighting was installed in 1923. In 1924 the Institution decided to buy the Manor House located opposite Belvedere House and convert it into an infirm home for sick or disabled residents. It was named the Lucas Home after Mr Bernard Lucas, the Bristol ship-owner who proposed the development to the Committee and gave £5,000 towards its cost. In the year following its opening in January 1926, 15 of the weakest of the Belvedere House residents and 14 totally incapacitated men from different parts of the country were admitted to the Lucas Home. In 1933 Prince George Duke of Kent opened a new 14-bed ward for the infirmary and broke the Red Ensign on the new flagpole made out of the old mast of HM Yacht Britannia which had been donated by HM King George V, the Royal Patron since 1900, who died in January 1936. HM King Edward VIII briefly succeeded him as Patron, and after he abdicated in December 1936 he was in turn replaced as the Patron by his brother and successor HM King George VI.


1938 1933

1933

1938

Adolf Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany

Management meets in October to discuss a range of precautions in the event of a Second World War

DID YOU KNOW

The classic Marie biscuit is named after the Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia, who was a Royal Patron of the Society for nearly 40 years. The sweet treat was created especially in 1874 to commemorate her marriage to Prince Alfred.

Little occurred during these years to disturb the tranquil and conventional existence of the residents of Belvedere House or to change the conditions in which they lived. The residents and the out-pensioners were found as before from elderly and retired merchant seamen and their widows. Even the Munich Crisis of 1938 with its threat of a second outbreak of war passed without particularly affecting the Belvedere and Lucas Homes. Nevertheless, plans were discussed for evacuating the Homes, making air raid shelters, darkening the windows of the Homes and taking other precautions. Other emergency measures were authorised, including buying “stirrup” water pumps (for putting out incendiary bombs dropped by enemy planes) and a stock of rum as a stimulant for residents affected by air raids. Even after the Second World War broke out in September 1939 disruption to life at the Homes was kept to a minimum. Only a few residents were evacuated in 1939 to accommodation found for them by the Committee or to stay with friends. Most of them returned after June 1940. Luckily the Homes were not damaged in the intensive bombing of London between 1940 and 1941, despite their location beside the Thames right under the flight path of the bombers and their close proximity to the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich.

It was not until 1944 that things became dangerously close to home. V1s (flying bombs) fell nearby, breaking windows but causing only superficial other damage. Then followed the much more dangerous V2s (rocket bombs) early in 1945. In March of that year a V2 exploded about 100 yards from the Lucas Infirm Home, causing extensive damage to both Homes. The Infirm Home had to be evacuated and plans were made to transfer the residents of Belvedere to Torquay. However the war ended shortly afterwards and everyone stayed put while temporary repairs were carried out. Belvedere House had needed considerable repairs even before the war and serious dry rot came to light during an assessment for a war damage compensation claim. The Committee had decided even before the war ended that plans should be considered urgently for post-war modernisation and improvements. This would see the replacement of Belvedere House by a new purpose-built home with individual cabins for about 80 residents and hospital wards to accommodate 50 more individuals needing nursing care. There were already considerable funds in hand for this purpose, and more were raised by special appeals and large contributions from grantgiving charities including King George’s Fund for Sailors, the Merchant Navy Welfare Board and, via the ever-supportive Seamen’s Hospital Society, the Order of St John of Jerusalem and the British Red Cross Society. Unfortunately it was not until 1955 that the decision was finally taken to close Belvedere House and build a new home in its grounds, and not until 1957 that the building of the new Home began. The new Home was finished and ready in 1959, and after serving as the Home of the Society for nearly a hundred years, Belvedere House was closed.

PART 1 The Story and The Places

21


1939

1939

World War II begins

Part 1

Chapter 2

The story and the places

The New Belvedere Home, Erith: 1959-78

The new Home was built close by Belvedere House and the residents of the old Home watched, from a respectful distance, with great curiosity and interest the site being levelled, the foundations dug and the structure erected. It had taken a long time to get underway.

CAPTION:

Top left - architect’s representation of the New Belvedere Home

CAPTION:

Top right - aerial view of the completed site

CAPTION:

Bottom - Chairman Mr Geoffrey Milling cuts the first turf for the building of Belvedere Home

22

The Committee of Management had decided by 1953 that the difficulty and cost of modernising the Belvedere Mansion outweighed by far the expense of putting up a completely new built-for-purpose home. The firm of Gollins, Ward & Partners was appointed the architects. It was a pioneer in the design of curtain wall buildings, where the walls are suspended from beams cantilevered out from a central tower instead of being constructed from the bottom up. The firm designed the new Home as a severely modern reinforced concrete and glass curtain walled four storey rectangular and flat roofed building, a stark contrast to the old late Georgian Belvedere Mansion. It would accommodate some 80 able-bodied men in individual cabins and hospital wards for about 50 more men who needed nursing care.

PART 1 The Story and The Places


1945

1940

Winston Churchill becomes Prime Minister of Great Britain

A model of the new Home was accepted as a fine example of modern architecture for display at the 1955 Summer Exhibition of the Royal Academy in London. A building licence was soon granted, but it took a very long time to obtain planning permission. A public enquiry was necessary before the Ministry of Housing could eventually give permission for the Belvedere Mansion to be demolished. This was on the proviso that the sitting-room, of special historic interest and known as the Gold Room, was preserved, and in 1954 the design of the proposed new Home was approved.

1945

1940

V2 bombings cause extensive damage to both Homes. Thankfully no injuries are reported and neither Home is structurally affected. Discussions begin about post-war modernisation and adaptation of the Belvedere Home

the Society, which was by now approaching its centenary. Princess Alexandra made a hugely positive impression, with one example of her charm being to place a rose from her bouquet into the buttonhole of the Home’s then oldest resident, after spotting him struggling to do so himself. Countess Mountbatten of Burma visited the Home on 3rd November the same year. The wards for infirm residents were named the same day ‘The Geoffrey Milling Wing’ after Mr Geoffrey Milling, the Chairman of the Committee of Management during the critical period of 1951 to 1959.

CAPTION:

Right - the visit of Princess Alexandra of Kent to the new Home was covered widely by the media. This article capturing the moment she placed a rose in a resident’s buttonhole is from the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong edition, published on 17th July 1959

CAPTION:

Left - Princess Alexandra arrives at the new Belvedere Home

In the meantime the cost of the project had risen and more funds had to be raised. The contractors A. E. Syms Ltd began building in 1956, and the new Home was ready for occupation by the end of 1958. The cost of building, furnishing and fees amounted to about £229,000. The residents moved in during February 1959 and Belvedere Mansion was demolished the same year. The walls of the Gold Room began to move while the rest of the building was being pulled down and since no-one was able or willing to put up the money to prop it up the Gold Room went the same way as the rest of the old mansion! The new Home was officially opened by Princess Alexandra of Kent on 30th June 1959, to universal enthusiasm and in high hopes for the future of

PART 1 The Story and The Places

23


1950

The first ‘original’ Royal Charter is granted. The charity becomes ‘The Royal Alfred Merchant Seamen’s Society’

1945

1945

1950

World War II ends - United Nations is established

CAPTION:

Residents play snooker in the new recreation room

The residents settled in quickly and happily. Their accommodation was much more comfortable and they could now enjoy central heating in their cabins, a large specially slow-moving lift, a library of more than 1,000 books, a recreation room fitted for snooker and darts, a television room, and a hobbies room! The bowling green that had been lost during the redevelopment was re-laid on a new site in 1963 and an annual fixture against the Chelsea Pensioners was resumed.

In 1965 the Society celebrated its Centenary at the new Home in considerable style. On 13th June an open-air Service of Thanksgiving was held in the grounds; on the 19th June there was a Centenary Gala and open day; and finally, on 27th October HRH The Duchess of Gloucester toured the Home, met the residents and staff and unveiled a plaque commemorating the Centenary and her visit. The centenary year was also marked by the purchase

That same year there was a grand open day and garden party attended by some 2,000 friends and a small annexe named the ‘Admiral Herbert Ward’ was built to accommodate men not sufficiently ill to be admitted to the Milling Wing but not fit enough to look after themselves in their own cabins. The lower part of the 120 feet high flag pole, made out of the redundant mast of King George V’s racing yacht Britannia which had been donated by the King to the Society and had stood since 1933 flying the Red Ensign outside the old Belvedere Mansion, was found to be rotting. It was replaced by a disused Douglas Fir spar from the Royal Naval Dockyard at Chatham and the re-made mast was erected in front of the new Home. Everything seemed to be moving in the right direction.

24

PART 1 The Story and The Places

of two adjacent private hotels in Eastbourne for conversion into a Home for Ladies. However, from the early 1960s there was a noticeable acceleration in the pace of change in the social scene and in people’s needs, aspirations and expectations. Additionally, developments in the British shipping industry gave maritime charities like the Royal Alfred cause for concern. The widening activities of the ‘welfare state’ began to erode the work of charities in several ways and many maritime charities considered that a decreasing demand for their services was to be expected. In the words of Captain Riley, the House Governor of the Belvedere Home, the Society’s activities, which had long been shining examples of a need being effectively met, were to be the ones in which the decline was most marked. In short, the effect was that residential homes were becoming relevant only for those needing especial care and attention,


1954

1954

Town planning approval given to designs of new Home

which in turn meant that the recruitment and retention of properly qualified staff became much more important. When the new Belvedere House was opened there was accommodation in the Home for the House Governor, his assistant, the Matron, her assistant, four staff nurses for the infirm wing, and four domestic workers. It soon became clear that this arrangement was unrealistic: good quality nursing staff were unwilling to take up residential appointments if the only accommodation for them took the form of bedsits within the Home itself. So, in 1964 two semi-detached bungalows were built in the grounds for the Matron and her assistant, together with a block of six two or three-bedroom flats for resident nursing staff. The accommodation thus freed up in the Home was redesigned and extended to form a ‘halfway house’ named the ‘Admiral Herbert Wing’ for 16 extra residents too frail to support themselves in cabins but who might with a little assistance live contentedly without having to be classed as infirm wing cases. These changes increased the capacity of the Home to 151 beds, though for practical purposes the maximum was 138. The funding for the Herbert Wing came from a legacy of £16,000 to the Seamen’s Hospital Society under the Will of Mrs F. de C. Herbert, widow of Admiral Frederick Anstruther Herbert, to be applied for the benefit of that charity’s Dreadnought Seamen’s Hospital at Greenwich in providing small housing for retired seamen. The Seamen’s Hospital Society would have needed to build suitable accommodation but since this was impractical the Society offered the legacy to its ‘protégée’ the Royal Alfred, with which it maintained a close connection. The minutes of the Management Committee meetings are silent on the point, but it appears from notes made by Captain Riley in the

Society archives that the creation of the Herbert Wing as residential accommodation for retired merchant seamen was accepted by both the Seamen’s Hospital and Royal Alfred societies as falling within the terms of the legacy.

CAPTION: HRH The Duchess of Gloucester stops to talk to a patient during her tour of the Home in 1965, the Society’s Centenary year

In 1966, a dedicated new ‘Home for Ladies’ was opened close to the seafront in Eastbourne, Sussex, and named after the late Mr Reginald Grout, Chairman of the Board of Management from 1959 to 1963 when he died in office. The acquisition of the Eastbourne Home was a significant show of commitment to the next 50 years and the Society’s determination to continue the good work and expand its remit.

Back at Weston Acres (which will be covered in great detail later in this publication), the Society took another step in 1968 to improve accommodation for the staff by using the opportunity of the retirement of the Assistant House Governor to relocate his successor in the bungalow attached to the Home originally provided for the House Governor and building a new detached house as a residence for the Governor himself.

PART 1 The Story and The Places

25


1955 1955

CAPTION:

Left – the journey of the Belvedere Mast begins with the felling of a Sitka Spruce near Perth in April 1971

CAPTION:

Right – the tree is winched from truck to train for transporting to Essex for production and painting

In 1970 the lower part of the flag pole, the spar supplied from Chatham 13 years before, was found to be rotting. It was decided that the whole mast should be replaced. Times had changed and people and firms could not afford to be so generous with their money and services as in the past. However, after a long search, in April 1971 a suitably long about 150 feet - and straight Sitka Spruce tree was sourced from a private plantation eight miles from Perth and donated by an associate

company of a firm of Lloyd’s underwriters. The tree was felled and transported to Perth rail station free of charge and British Rail Eastern Region agreed to carry the tree for a very small freight charge from Perth to Messrs Piggott Bros. in Essex for production and painting, before being transported to Belvedere. There the mast was rigged and raised in front of the new Home, and on 28th April 1972 the Red Ensign was broken out on the new mast for the first time by Mr Colwyn Sturge, a member of Lloyd’s and President of the Lloyd’s Branch of

26

Anthony Eden becomes Prime Minister (Con.)

1955

1955

The Royal Alfred takes the decision to move to a new purpose-built Home

HM Queen Elizabeth II becomes Royal Patron of the Society

PART 1 The Story and The Places

the Royal British Legion. House Governor Riley records that before the mast was raised one of the residents, an aged coastal skipper crippled with arthritis, made his painful way from the Home to where the mast was lying on the ground and sat on the mast cap, saying proudly that he was the only man who could ever claim to have sat on the top of the Belvedere mast. The story of the mast, which had so long been a stately landmark for the people of Belvedere, unfortunately has a sad ending. When the developers took over the site of Belvedere House eight years later they did not want the mast, it was much too large for the new Home at Banstead, and no one was prepared to take it even as a gift, so it was taken down and, to the dismay of many, sawn up for firewood. At the beginning of the 1970s, a decade of extreme monetary inflation, the worsening state of the Society’s finances was causing concern and although the Home was in effect full, with 140 residents in 1970, the number of applications from able-bodied men was falling. The always high and now markedly increasing cost of administering the 50-bed infirm wing was particularly alarming. Mr D.J. Lafferty, the then General Secretary, proposed to the Board of Management that it should be closed and the staff flats specially built in the grounds should be sold. This drastic suggestion,


1956

1956

The Hungarian Revolution begins

perhaps intended as a wake-up call, was turned down, but in 1975 the Society formed a Future Development Committee which soon came to the conclusion that it would not be long before the closing altogether of the Belvedere Home became a serious possibility. Meanwhile the number of vacancies at the Home increased and in 1974 all the cabins on the top floor were closed. Late in 1976 the sizeable sum of £39,000 was raised by the sale, after protracted negotiations begun in 1974 and delays due to Government financial and planning constraints, of The Dell, about three acres of the Belvedere parkland that jutted northwards in the direction of the Thames, to The Royal British Legion Housing Association for development as flats for the elderly. This piece of land was steeply sloped and covered with scrub and brambles, long the

haunt of suburban foxes and young trespassers, and so useless as a residents’ recreation area. This afforded some temporary respite, but was soon offset by the local authority (the London Borough of Bexley) reducing the number of maintenance grants it was prepared to pay to the Society for caring for new residents who had lived in its area. An approach was made to Bexley Council inviting it to fill vacancies at the Home from the long list of elderly people seeking admission to the Council’s homes, but this came to nothing.

The report to the Board submitted by the House Governor towards the end of 1977 pointed out that 35 new residents had been admitted to the Home, of whom 21 were infirm and incapable of taking part in the activities which residents had traditionally enjoyed, like playing bowls, going on trips and having parties. It seemed clear that a building with less spacious grounds, fewer individual cabins and more hospital-type accommodation would be better suited to fulfil the Society’s changed role. Nor should it be prevented from looking for a site away from its original location on the south side of the Thames. The Board accordingly set about finding smaller premises with suitable accommodation and lower running costs and disposing of the Belvedere Home. As will be told, this was achieved, but only after a long drawn-out series of setbacks and delays which nearly brought the Society to its knees.

CAPTION:

The journey ends – the Red Ensign is hoisted onto the new Belvedere Mast at a ceremony in April 1972

In November 1978, less than 20 years after it had been opened with such pride and such high hopes, the Belvedere Home at Erith was closed and its residents were moved far away from the banks of the Thames to the former Zachary Merton Convalescent Home, an annexe to The London Hospital, around 20 miles (as the crow flies) away in Banstead, Surrey, which had closed down in 1977. Only 20 miles away, but it might as well have been in a different world: woods, leafy lanes, green fields, country villas with big gardens – a far cry from the rather grimy and run-down riverside towns and villages and industry on the south side of the Thames. The Society completed the purchase of this property in April 1978 for £225,000 with the aid of bridging finance (a loan from the Society’s then Bankers Williams & Glyn’s with interest at 1½% over Bank Base Rate, then a staggering 17 per cent, and two loans from King George’s Fund for Sailors which were free of interest) and converted it at an additional cost of some £80,000 into a residential Home with accommodation for residents too infirm to look after themselves and renamed The Royal Alfred Home. The move was prepared and accomplished over three weeks with considerable care and efficiency.

PART 1 The Story and The Places

27


1956

UK, France and Israel invade Egypt to regain Western control of Suez Canal

1956

1956

1956

Building of new Home underway

The story and the places Part 1

Chapter 3

The Royal Alfred Home, Eastbourne: 1965-2006

While the residents were settling into their new modern Home at Erith, the Society was approaching its Centenary year of 1965 and looking at ways of celebrating this achievement and using it as a springboard for the future. On the one hand there would be a book written about the Society, an appeal for funds, an open-air Service of Thanksgiving and a Centenary gala and open day in the grounds of Belvedere House to which the then Royal Patron HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh would be invited. On the other, the Board was considering purchasing another property which would provide a ladies’ home for the widows of seafarers. This had been one of the original objects of the Society but had not been implemented, apart from a very few ladies who had only recently been admitted to the new home at Erith. CAPTION:

Originally the Board wanted to build a new ‘Home for Ladies’, but decided that finding the large sums required could have a serious impact on running costs and pensions, so it looked instead for existing premises which could be adapted at minimum expense. Distance from Belvedere House in Erith did not appear to be an issue.

‘Now and then’ - Royal Alfred House, Eastbourne, in 1966 (black and white) and the 1980s (colour)

Such a property would also be a fitting memorial to the late Mr Reginald Grout, Chairman of the Board of Management from 1959 to 1963. However, up till then the Board had been wary of adding to the Society’s properties and responsibilities. True, there had briefly been a very grand Royal Alfred Sailors’ Home in Mumbai (then known as Bombay) in India during the late 1800s this building today houses the Maharashtra Police Headquarters - and another in Marseilles in France during the First World War, but these had both been special and temporary instances. As recently as 1963 the Society had also seriously considered a proposal to take over the administration of Sir Gabriel Wood’s Mariners’ Home in Greenock on the River Clyde, but this had come to nothing.

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PART 1 The Story and The Places

In March 1965, the 30-bedroom Dixon Court Hotel at the end of a terrace of handsome-looking identical bow-fronted four-storey early Victorian buildings on the west side of Hartington Place, close to the seafront in Eastbourne, Sussex, came on the market. The Board, now chaired by Mr David Rooper, thought that it could be highly suitable for conversion and change of use from hotel to a retirement home for ladies, except that it was too


1957

Eden resigns as Prime Minister, to be replaced by Harold Macmillan (Con.)

1957

1957

Allies evacuate Egypt

small, the Board having agreed that the new Home needed to accommodate at least 40 residents. Luck was fortunately on the Society’s side; the owner of the next-door Regency Court Hotel agreed to sell it and contracts for the purchase of both hotels were exchanged in July. Planning permission for the necessary change of use was obtained and the purchase of both hotels was completed on 1st November 1965. The combined purchase price of the two hotels was £56,203, and the cost of the adaptations, alterations, installation of central heating and a lift, new equipment and furnishings amounted to some £27,500. Mrs Joan Lafferty, wife of the energetic new General Secretary of the Society Mr D. J. Lafferty, went to live in the premises until it was ready to receive residents. The conversion works took longer than expected and it was not until May 1966 that the first residents - widows of seafarers and

retired stewardesses - moved in. There was some dissatisfaction at the smallness of the rooms, and the newly installed lift broke down three times in the first month, but these and other teething troubles were overcome and ‘The Reginald Grout Memorial Home for Ladies’, was formally opened, in the apologetic non-availability of HRH The Duchess of Kent, by Mrs Doris Grout on 14th June 1966. ‘Royal Alfred House’ was born and went on to become highly successful and much loved. The Board had for some time been considering the advantages of being able to provide holidays by the seaside for its residents and pensioners in the Society’s own premises. Arranging holidays

DID YOU KNOW

The Maharashtra Police Headquarters in Mumbai, India, once housed a Royal Alfred Sailors’ Home in the late 1800s.

CAPTION:

Left - ladies in attendance at 1968 Weston Acres official opening ceremony

CAPTION:

Right - old Royal Alfred Sailors’ Home in Bombay

for them in cheap, off-peak accommodation was difficult. In late 1965, Mr and Mrs Hamilton, owners of the Hamilton Hotel at 11 Hartington Place, next door to the Society’s Home, indicated they might be retiring soon and would be interested in selling their hotel to the Society when the time and the price were right. On the face of it that hotel was unsuitable for elderly people, being tall, narrow and without a lift. On the other hand it was next door to the Society’s premises and since the floor levels were common to both buildings it could readily be connected to the Home. The Board decided the Society ought to acquire the property with a view to running it as a hotel for a trial period of around three years. In November 1968 the Hamiltons finally confirmed they were willing to sell. However, the Society discovered when they approached their friends among the grant-giving charities that they were unable to donate towards the cost because if they assisted the Society to buy a hotel they would in effect be enabling the Society to acquire a valuable commercial capital asset. This severely limited the amount the Society would be able to pay. However, the demand for holiday accommodation for seafarers and their families still seemed strong, so the Board opened negotiations with the Hamiltons and in February 1969 eventually agreed terms.

PART 1 The Story and The Places

29


1957

Treaty of Rome establishes European Economic Community

1957

1957

Work on new Home progressing well

CAPTION:

Top right – kitchen staff at work at Royal Alfred House, Eastbourne

CAPTION:

Below centre – Royal Alfred House in bloom

The Hamiltons began by asking for £25,000 for the hotel and its contents, with attractive deferred payment terms, but after what was described by one of the Society’s officers as “taut and urgent” bargaining they eventually settled for £20,000 to be paid in full on completion, vacant possession however not being given until the autumn. The purchase was thus completed on 8th April but only in November could work begin on the essential repairs and alterations to link the building, floor by floor, to the Home next door. By the following May the hotel had been redecorated and was ready for occupation, just in time to honour a long-standing booking of all the rooms by another veteran seafarers’ association. In May 1971 the premises was renamed the ‘Royal Alfred Hotel’. The style of the brochure produced to advertise the Hotel and describe its facilities is strictly matter of fact (apart perhaps from the slogan - “If you have any interest in the seaside - you should be interested in us!” - above the drawing of the façade of the building on the cover) and the simple, almost spartan (by modern standards) facilities of the hotel are set out straightforwardly without any of the highly coloured descriptions and exaggerated claims for outstanding quality which one is accustomed to finding in hotel publicity material today. For the lift you had to go next door into the Royal Alfred Home; the rooms were warmed by pay-as-you-go electric radiators; the toilets and the only two bathrooms were ‘down

30

PART 1 The Story and The Places

the corridor’. Nonetheless the hotel was at first well patronised. However, by 1976 the administrative and financial burden had become too great for the Society and it decided to close the hotel and add its accommodation to that of the Home. In 1973 the entire building of 5-11 Hartington Place was listed Grade II after the Society’s appeal against the listing was turned down. Both the Royal Alfred Home and the hotel had by then been fitted out to the best standards then feasible within their physical constraints, and the Society was not looking or able to make any big alterations or additions. The handsome bow-windowed façades of the buildings in Hartington Place were all finished in cream painted stucco requiring redecoration every five to seven years, an expensive and rather disruptive process, but in other respects the cost of ordinary maintenance was not excessive. However, the lift had an inconvenient habit of breaking down at frequent intervals, once over Christmas. It is easy to imagine the frustration and annoyance caused to both the residents and the staff. Improvements were made when space and funds permitted, for example new gas cookers in the


1958

1958

First Cod War between Britain and Iceland (Sept-Nov)

Captain Malcolm Lowle, Trustee, said:

“Pat Collins always said that the reason Royal Alfred was so successful was the rather excellent series of GPs which we were fortunate to have. Interestingly when we had a male GP female patients increased in number but as soon as a female GP was appointed the number of number of male patients shot up! I wonder why? “Apart from herself, which Pat modestly decided not to mention, the other factor in the success of Royal Alfred House was the bar, which for many years was the responsibility of one Claude Lewis Letchford, known as Charlie, who was a bosun (boatswain) when Captain Braithwaite, one of the Society’s Trustees, was an apprentice on the same ship. Charlie continued to run the bar well into his 80s and only stopped after accidentally dropping an empty beer keg, which rolled through and smashed the closed French windows of the sun lounge.”

kitchen and the addition of a sun lounge. The latter was something for which the Matron and Officer in Charge Mrs Pat Collins had long campaigned and indeed made a big difference to the comfort of the residents. Pat personally took on the role of ‘fundraiser’ for the project and without her none of this would have happened. Pat also made use of the tiny space available to grow flowers in pots placed in the entrance porch and everywhere she could make room, and tend and water them in her spare time, often after dark – hence her title of ‘the Midnight Gardener’ – and indeed won the Eastbourne Floral Town Trophy several times. In 1983, the Board was concerned as to the condition of the roof of the combined building and commissioned a Trinity House surveyor to inspect it and report back. He recommended replacing the slates and removing the long disused chimney stacks and replacing them with waterproof ventilators. However, the local planners ruled that the stacks were an important feature of the buildings and streetscape of Hartington Place and refused to give listed building consent to their removal. So the Society had to repair and reinstate both the roofs and the stacks. Ironically, the listed building status did not, it seems, stand in the way of the developers who acquired the building after the Society sold it in 2007 and demolished it, chimney stacks and all, and then redeveloped the site as a block of modern flats. Other examples of problems presented by the listed building status included the choosing of the

right paint to use on the exterior. Trinity House recommended a brand which they said stood up to everything the wind and sea could throw at its lighthouses; English Heritage insisted on its own, more expensive, brand. The flagpole angled out from the front balcony of the Home from which the Red Ensign was proudly hung had to be taken down while the building was being repainted, and then no-one was willing to put it back again, because of the Health and Safety issues allegedly involved. The Home and its residents were well-known and affectionately regarded in Eastbourne, and both the Fire and Rescue Service and the RNLI crew benefited from collections by residents on the seafront; on this occasion it was the Fire Service which volunteered to do the job the builders declined to do, and they put back and re-rigged the flagpole. The pole and the Red Ensign remained there till the Home was closed in 2007, when the flag was ceremonially lowered for the last time by Trustee Captain Malcolm Lowle, with added poignancy in that he was also a one-time convalescent resident of the Home.

CAPTION:

Pat Collins (pictured here second from left) has the first taste of a 90lb Christmas pudding - a real highlight of Christmas 1982. The pudding and a 71lb turkey were donated by the Army Catering Corps, and split equally between the Eastbourne and Banstead Homes. A window still needed to be taken out at Banstead to get the pudding inside!

PART 1 The Story and The Places

31


1958

1958

New Belvedere House, Erith, completed, built by AE Symes for ÂŁ228,000

CAPTION:

Ladies at the Eastbourne Home playing bridge in 2001

The Board was aware that premises converted from other uses could not compete on level terms with modern purpose-built sheltered housing accommodation. For one thing the Home lacked a sufficiently high proportion of single en-suite bedrooms and best quality baths and toilets. Nonetheless the number and the type of people applying for residence in the Home was sufficient for the Board to believe for many years that the Home was a residence of choice for retired seafarers and people with sea-going connections, more because it offered security, reassurance and companionship than because of its standards of care. By 1996, however, the number of permanent

residents was declining while the requirements of the newly expanding and ever more detailed regulatory regime for residential care and nursing homes were increasing. In 1992, the Society had been approved as a provider of Care in the Community, but in 1998 the Board faced up to the fact that the Home fell well short of the national standard: many of the bedrooms were too small, none were en-suite. Ahead of receiving the report of consultants appointed in 2000

32

PART 1 The Story and The Places

to advise on the future of the Home the Board decommissioned 12 of the bedrooms as being too small or on the route of the means of escape in case of fire, carried out more work of general redecoration, installed a residents’ laundry and new boilers, created two more en-suite bedrooms, provided three more toilets and bathrooms and installed private telephones in all rooms. A more sophisticated heated serving counter was installed in the dining room. A minibus was purchased to take the residents on trips. More activities were laid on. In 2003 the Home passed its first National Care Standards inspection and it was granted a Certificate of Registration in 2004. Despite this and the evidence by the award of the Merchant Navy Medal to Pat Stockton, the then Officer in Charge, that the staff was doing a good job, the number of applicants continued to decline and the sands of time were running out for the Home. In September 2006 the Board decided but only after much soul searching and debate, for the Home was held in much affection, to call time on the Royal Alfred Home. Christmas and New Year were celebrated in their customary cheerful fashion, but in January 2007 the residents were relocated, many in the recently opened and up-to-date Belvedere Home in Banstead, and in February the Home was closed. The premises was sold shortly afterwards for £1.7m and demolished, listed chimney stacks, very handsome Regency staircase and all. As mentioned earlier, the site was redeveloped as a six-storey block of luxuriously appointed flats; the proceeds from the sale were applied in improving and extending the dementia wing at Belvedere.


1957

Profile

Czech and Hungarian risings

1956

UK, France and Israel invade Egypt and occupy Suez Canal Zone

My royal Alfred

1957

Work on new Home progressing well

1956

Trustee David Gundry In the late post Second World War years and into the 1970s, the rate of growth, renewal and replacement of British tonnage was amazing. All the major maritime cities within the United Kingdom resounded to all the famous shipping names that have ever flown the Red Ensign and proudly so. Amongst many of the greats, Andrew Weir Shipping was, with the Bank Line, United Baltic Corporation Limited and MacAndrews & Company Limited one of the largest ever British companies that sailed the ‘Seven Seas’. Along with such large ownership, came considerable profits and, I am pleased to say, much philanthropy. Andrew Weir & Company at the time of my employment was led by the late Lord Inverforth. Following his untimely death, Lord Inverforth was succeeded by the Hon. Vincent Weir and then Lord Runciman. Through the original inspiration of Lord Inverforth and maintained by his colleagues, Holger Castenskiold, Captain Brian Rodgers and Captain Duncan Glass amongst many, a number of UK maritime charities benefitted from his generosity. As a consequence of that, Lord Inverforth asked members of his staff to “be involved” hence my arrival as a trustee of The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society in 1990.

At the time of my appointment I was told that my alleged knowledge of the human resources function and some knowledge of the law in general would be of value to the Society as well as coming from a serving maritime background. (To be honest with you, one of my motivators to be involved was to hopefully ensure that there might be a bed for me in later years!) The last 24 years within the Society have been for the vast majority of time, a great pleasure and joy to have been involved. Of course we have had our ups and downs but that is life and with a vibrant growing charity such as Royal Alfred, that is to be expected. One of the guiding principles that I have found helpful in many walks of life is to consider “who are the eventual beneficiaries of whatever is to be done”? For Royal Alfred, it has always been and thank goodness remains so, the people who come to the Society for care, generally in later life. If whatever we do or propose to do is for their benefit, then “let’s do it”, if not, then “no”. Whilst this may seem blindingly obvious, there are occasions when such clear distinctions are difficult to see. As an example, the closure of the home at Eastbourne was a struggle. With the benefit of hindsight, was the decision to close the right one? I believe it was and the Society is the stronger today for that decision. One of the many joys of being involved with the Society is the opportunity to act as a team member. There is a great team at Weston Acres, working so well together in mutual support and friendship. The trustees seek to play their part and I am proud to be part of that team.

PROFILE My Royal Alfred

33


1959

Residents transferred to new Home 2nd February

1959

Official opening by HRH Princess Alexandra 30th June

The story and the places Part 1

Chapter 4

Weston Acres House, Banstead, and the Royal Alfred Housing Association: 1967-2013 With a digression on the odyssey of the Society’s Head Office: 1865-2007

Weston Acres House, to quote the sale particulars when it was offered for sale at auction in 1948, is a “medium-sized country residence, about 500 feet above sea level, built of brick, rough cast with a tiled roof and stone mullioned windows with leaded lights”, was built in 1906 and occupies a “central position in its well-timbered grounds”, namely pasture and woodlands, extending to just over 14 acres. Its present-day appearance is very much the same as it was in 1948. CAPTION:

Left - a crowd gathers at the official opening of Weston Acres House in 1968

CAPTION:

Right - Weston Acres House today

In February 1967 the Merchant Navy Welfare Board recommended that the maritime charities for which it acted as the umbrella body should get together to provide “flatlets for veteran seafarers and their widows”. The Shipwrecked Mariners’ and the Seamen’s Hospital societies were already cautiously exploring the idea and this prompted General Secretary Lafferty to conduct a straw

poll of the Royal Alfred pensioners and beneficiaries who were currently living in their own homes. Nearly 400, roughly ten per cent of the total number polled, indicated their interest and Mr Lafferty recommended the Board to consider purchasing a property which could provide, or be readily converted to provide, accommodation

34

PART 1 The Story and The Places

in one or two roomed flatlets for elderly but independent retirees who needed occasional help and companionship. Weston Acres, then still a private house, came on the market in 1967 and the Board decided that it would be eminently suitable for conversion into 19 self-contained unfurnished flatlets with a lounge, dining room and reading room for the use of the residents, who were expected to be retired seafarers and/or their widows who were not particularly in need of care and attention but for whose reassurance and occasional assistance there would be a resident Warden on

site. So in August 1967 the Board decided to buy, through a company, ‘The Royal Alfred Merchant Seamen’s Housing Association Limited’ specially set up by the Society, the whole property, buildings


1959

1960

Old Belvedere House demolished

1959

1960

Head Office moved from Ibex House Minories to Balham High Street

and grounds, for £40,000 and to be prepared to pay £20,000 for the necessary alterations to the house. The total £60,000 would be treated as a loan by the Society to the Association secured by a mortgage on the property. The purchase was completed in October 1967 and in the same month Mr and Mrs Fawcett were appointed the first Wardens. In the following January the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society donated £10,000 to the Society for use by the Housing Association and the pasture land was let to the neighbouring farmer at a nominal rent of £1 per annum for 1968–1969 in return for his refencing and reseeding the pasture. By July 1968 all the flatlets had been let and were fully occupied. At this point the story of the Housing Association coincides with that of the Society’s Head Office, the history of which I will now outline here. From the earliest beginnings of the Society its Head Office was located in the City of London, eventually settling in premises over a tobacconists’ shop at 58 Fenchurch Street. Interestingly, as if reinforcing its nautical connection, on the left of the tobacconist was a nautical instrument shop. The Office remained there until the Society, apprehensive of the expected German air raids on London (the building had no air raid shelter), terminated its lease at Christmas 1939 and moved the office to Belvedere House, Erith. The Society’s prudence was justified: 58 Fenchurch Street was completely destroyed in an air raid in May 1941. Soon after the war ended in 1945 the Head Office staff moved from their temporary and inconvenient rooms at Belvedere to Ibex House, Minories, a

1930s modern and spacious office block at the eastern edge of the City which had survived the blitz. There it stayed until March 1960 when, in response to urgings from Government to relocate offices out of the centre of London, the Society took a lease on Balham High Road in south London, this time above a furniture shop, Williams Furniture. In February 1966 the Board reviewed the fire precautions, a timely step as it turned out because in the following May smoke started to come through the floorboards. There was no actual outbreak of fire but a fault in the wiring of the shop below was suspected and the Board feared that the Head Office staff were sitting on a potential bonfire.

CAPTION:

Top left - one of the first Weston Acres House tenants, Mr Smith, admires a seagoing trophy

CAPTION:

Middle - the Royal Alfred’s first Head Office on Fenchurch Street, London

CAPTION:

Bottom right - a senior member of Head Office staff in the early 1900s

Williams Furniture were asked to check their electrical installations, to which they promptly replied that this has been done and they’d been advised that everything was in order. This was reassuring, but not entirely, given that the Tooting branch of the same business had just been completely burnt out! The Board requested that the local Fire Brigade be asked to carry out an inspection and make recommendations, and that the Society’s insurers be alerted to this possible risk.

PART 1 The Story and The Places

35


1963

Macmillan resigns. Alec Douglas-Home (Con.) becomes Prime Minister

1964

David Rooper becomes Chairman of Management Board

1964

1963

DID YOU KNOW

The building that housed the first Royal Alfred Head Office, on Fenchurch Street in London, was completely destroyed in an air raid in May 1941. Thankfully, the Society had moved its office a year and a half before this happened.

As it turned out the risk was altogether nullified only a year later by the move of Head Office from Balham to Banstead. In January 1968 General Secretary Lafferty suggested to the Board that the 12-year unexpired lease of the Balham premises could be sold for about £20,000 and for that sum a block of new administrative offices with wardens’ flats over them could be built in the grounds of newly-acquired Weston Acres. Planning permission was obtained in March 1968 and the new block was built. Head Office was relocated at Weston Acres in August that year. However, Mr Lafferty’s optimism about selling Balham proved to be misplaced and the best that could be managed was that the premises were sub-let before the lease eventually expired. In June 1970 the Board decided that the ownership of the administrative block should be conveyed by the Housing Association to the Society in June 1970 and this was done in the December. Head Office stayed where it was until 1999, just before work began on the building of the new Home in the grounds of Weston Acres (as described in Chapter 6) when it moved to SBC House in Wallington, Surrey, some three miles away to the north-east of Banstead. This was originally intended to be a short, temporary move until the new Home and the refurbishment of the office block were finished. However, although the Society took possession of the new Home in March 2001, Head Office did not return to Weston Acres until January 2007. It has remained there ever since.

36

PART 1 The Story and The Places

To resume the story of Weston Acres and the Housing Association, the Board, fired with enthusiasm by the success of the project and the number of applications it was receiving from the Society’s out-pensioners, which far exceeded the number of flats available, decided in January 1968 to build a new eight-bedsit extension to Weston Acres House in order that the accommodation should, it was believed, then be large enough to qualify for an Exchequer subsidy. The Merchant Navy Welfare Board had assured Mr Lafferty that it would contribute £10,000 towards the cost, and the building of the extension began in March 1968 on the understanding that the cost would not exceed £10,000. Alas, it emerged that the planned floor area of each of the additional flats would be too small to qualify for subsidies, and there was nothing for it but either to abandon the proposed extension or redesign it with larger flats. The Board felt it had already spent far more than it had anticipated on the Weston Acres project but nonetheless chose to carry on and complete the extension. The cost of it was £23,000, the £13,000 over and above the £10,000 given by the Welfare Board having to be found from the Society’s capital resources. In April 1969 work on the now 28 flats was well advanced and Mr Lafferty was able to advise the Board that when all the accommodation was occupied Government grant aid and the rent and contribution towards service charges paid by the tenants would combine to ensure that the Housing Association would be wholly self-supporting. (As a registered Housing Association under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1893 the Association was entitled to housing subsidy and welfare grants at £15 a room from Surrey County Council, and to grant aid at £30 a room from the local authority Banstead Urban District Council). However this was another over-optimistic forecast and financial problems continued to haunt the Housing Association for many years. By the time the project was completed and the tenants had moved in, the Association was already indebted to the Society to the amount of £90,000, and its income did not suffice even to service the annual interest on the debt, which went up year by year. So as to balance the books the Society lent the Association further sums roughly equivalent to the


1964

Harold Wilson becomes first Labour Prime Minister. Government policy regarding UK Merchant Marine changes to the detriment of the shipping industry

accrued interest. By 1980 the debt had increased to £150,000. Although this was in reality a paper debt, because it was only in the accounts of the Society and the Association that the finances of the two bodies were separated, it made for unattractive reading in the Society’s annual reports. The debt was at last paid off out of the proceeds of the sale in 1980 of the Belvedere Home in Erith, after which time the Association was self-supporting. It had been hoped that the Royal Patron HM The Queen would have been available to perform the opening ceremony during the course of her prospective visit to Banstead, but that visit did not materialise and in the event it was not until 5th September 1969 that Weston Acres, comprising both the flats in the house and its extension and the new premises in a separate block for the Head Office of the Society, was officially opened by Mrs Rooper, the wife of the Chairman Mr David Rooper, and dedicated by the Rev. Vincent Castle, Senior Chaplain, Mission to Seamen. The Band of the Royal Marines, HMS Collingwood, played during the afternoon. Judging from the numerous photographs of this event, it was a truly magnificent occasion. Together with the main house the Weston Acres property included a lodge cottage at the front gate and a gardener’s cottage in the grounds, and these were used as staff accommodation. (From 1968 to 2001, the Lodge was used as the residence of Mrs Daphne Friday, a member of head office staff at Belvedere Home, who also undertook stand-by warden duties from 1970 to 1999, and caretaker duties until 2001.) Aside from the installation of a damp proof course in the Lodge, the cottages initially needed little in the way of repair and improvements. Naturally keen to exploit the development potential of the site the Board pursued during 1973-1974 the idea

of building two to three bedroom bungalows on a vacant area of between four and five acres at the north end of the property. The Banstead Planning Authority was discouraging, though it said that a small extension to the new block of flatlets added by the Society to the Weston Acres house might be acceptable. The land at the north end of the property remains undeveloped, but there are currently ambitions for creating a fishing lake there. In 1975 the roof of the main house required repair at a cost of some £10,000, and an extension was built on to the gardener’s cottage. In 1978 some of the accommodation above the head office block was converted into self-contained flats for senior members of the staff at the Belvedere Home while Weston Acres House was let as 26 single flats and two double flats, of which two single flats were vacant. The next year the Warden’s flat (no. 29) was converted into accommodation for residents and the Warden (if any) lived off site, but on call. Since then repairs and improvements have been infrequent and straightforward, such as redecoration, new cookers, a new television set in the lounge and a water-softener.

CAPTION:

Left – the Royal Marines band plays at the official opening of Weston Acres House in 1969

CAPTION:

Right – one of the first Weston Acres tenants, Miss Lee, inspects her cooking

Recruiting and keeping a Warden became harder year by year and staff members of Belvedere Home had to stand in as part-time deputy Wardens. Eventually the post of Warden was abolished and these duties and responsibilities were given to a member of the Belvedere Home staff in the new role of Tenants’ Welfare Officer, who would be on call 24 hours.

PART 1 The Story and The Places

37


1965

1958

1965

Royal Alfred Centenary celebrations

The story and the places Part 1

Chapter 5

Belvedere House, Holly Lane, Banstead: 1978-2001

Towards the end of 1976 the Board of Management was informed by the General Secretary Mr Lafferty that the Zachary Merton Pre-Convalescent Home, an Annexe of the London Hospital situated in the London Green Belt off Holly Lane on the east side of Banstead in Surrey, was due to be closed. The Home was set at the top of a slope of rising ground on the east side of Banstead with a deep wood at the back separated from the Home by a high wall. Access from Holly Lane was via a winding drive with an awkward entrance, and there was some rather small parking space. The Home as opened in 1937 was a long two-storey brick building with a pillared portico, a side wing at a lower level and a terrace along its front. The site sloped down steeply to a meadow used for grazing sheep and horses. General Secretary Lafferty, a native of Banstead, recommended that if this Home became available for purchase it should be investigated as a possible replacement for New Belvedere House, Erith. CAPTION:

Zachary Merton Convalescent Home, Holly Lane

With the Chairman Mr David Rooper’s authority Mr Lafferty wrote in October to the then Secretary of State for Health and Social Services Mr David Ennals requesting that the Society be given a right of first refusal. He received a non-committal reply – the Regional Health Authority was still considering the future of the Home, most redundant NHS properties did not come on to the open market,

38

PART 1 The Story and The Places

the Government Redundant Land Procedure would have to be followed, and so on, but the Society’s request would be borne in mind. The Board was sufficiently encouraged to pursue the possibility, and visited the Home in January 1977 accompanied by the Society’s solicitor at the time, Mr J.A.H. West of Messrs Darley Cumberland (Mr West went on to become a trustee in 1970 and a Vice President


1966

1966

Seebohm Report - all children, elderly and mental welfare services to be made into one generic service

in 2000, a post he still holds today). In June the Board received the report it had commissioned from the Society’s heating consultant Mr Swain on the hot water and heating features of the Home. All these were of the Home’s original pre-War vintage, of a high standard and well maintained, but Mr Swain said they should ideally be replaced by modern equipment. The same month, despite not having heard anything from the Department of Health since the previous October, the Society was suddenly invited by the North-East Thames Regional Health Authority to make an offer for the property. This was exciting, but much needed

Royal Alfred Home in Eastbourne opens Publication of Centenary history, ‘The Royal Alfred Story’

1966

1966

up to £300,000 from the Society’s Bankers Williams & Glyn’s and a loan of £20,000 from King George’s Fund for Sailors. The asking price set by the District Valuer for the Home and its accompanying Staff House at £275,000 was reduced by negotiation to £225,000.

CAPTION:

Care Home Manager Andy Sowamber with resident

The Society took the plunge. Its offer was immediately accepted and the Society was even invited to take over the premises before contracts were exchanged. Cautious counsel prevailed and the invitation was declined, but the Society took the precaution of gaining access to and insuring the empty building against the risk of vandalism while the Solicitor checked the title and agreed the form of contract, which was eventually exchanged on 20th April 1978. Refitting, electrical works, the fire officer’s requirements comprising an external fire escape and the enclosure of the staircase in wired glass and hardwood cost some £80,000. The result was a 56-bed nursing home and a 22-bed sheltered unit, on two floors. On the first floor were 26 cabins for able-bodied residents; on the ground floor six wards each containing six beds, one 12bed ward, two other single rooms for sick residents, two lounges, a dining room and a recreation room.

to be organised, such as a survey, finance, Charity Commission approval, and what and when to tell the staff, before the Society could take such an important step. Making the most of his acquaintance with Mr Patrick Nairne, formerly a long-time Trustee of the Seamen’s Hospital Society and now Permanent Secretary to the Department of Health and Social Services, Mr Lafferty wrote to him asking that the Society be given a little time to prepare. Nothing positive had been heard by September, but Mr Lafferty gathered that no other organisation had expressed interest. In December, the Society had bridging finance lined up pending the sale of Belvedere House, Erith, namely a loan (with the approval of the Charity Commission) of

In November the residents were moved from Erith into their new and very different surroundings far from their former Home by the Thames in stages over three weeks. By 23rd November Belvedere Home at Erith was empty and by the year’s end Belvedere House in Banstead accommodated 69 residents, including two ladies. In the meantime efforts continued to bring about a successful sale of the Erith Home, pending which it had to be insured and secured against intruders.

PART 1 The Story and The Places

39


1967

1967

Purchase of house and grounds at Western Acres, Banstead, Surrey

CAPTION:

Anne Kasey at Holly Lane home. Anne joined the staff in 1983 and has since progressed to Home Manager

It was not long before changes and improvements were found to be necessary for the comfort and convenience of residents, who were now almost invariably old and infirm, if not actually quite incapable of looking after themselves. In 1979 one of the six-bed wards was divided into two, one for four, the other for two residents, the aim being to give greater flexibility in providing accommodation for patients of different sexes. In 1980 an intensive care room was created for terminally ill residents, and a comfortable bar was built on to the left side of the building. In 1982 worn-out flooring was replaced and in 1983 new beds and bedside lockers were provided. Thanks to a donation from the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) a lift was installed in 1985. The ITF also paid for the removal of asbestos in 1987. Donations from King George’s Fund for Sailors paid for double-glazing of the 12-bedded ward in 1988 and the re-carpeting of the cabins in 1989. In 1993 a modern fire detection and alarm system was installed at a cost of £83,000. This pattern of steady upgrading and improving the facilities in line with trends in nursing care and treatment and standards of accommodation continued during the following years: in 1994 the laundry facility was extended; lifting aids, wheelchairs, wide-screen television, inhouse physiotherapy were provided in 1995, and in the same year the open wards were converted into individual cubicles. Overnight accommodation for visiting relatives and friends was provided in 1996 and a safety fence was built round the Home. In 1998 the Seamen’s Hospital Society funded still more improvements and aromatherapy and physiotherapy units. The average annual occupation during the years 1978 to 1998 fluctuated between a maximum of 69 (in 1978) and a low of 53 (in 1987) residents and showed a steady downward trend. In 1996 the age of the 59 residents ranged from 46 to 102. By 1999 the Society had decided that there was no reasonable way in which the Home could

40

PART 1 The Story and The Places

be adapted to meet the exacting standards and physical environment criteria required by the 1998 National Required Standard for Residential and Nursing Homes for Older People. The Society’s long-time exemption as a charity created by Royal Charter from compliance with such statutory regulation had also recently been abolished. Too much of the accommodation was in ground floor wards, and not only were the single bed cabins on the first floor too small to meet the new standards,

but also none of them were fitted with en-suite toilets, a deficiency which could hardly be made good by the toilet hoists installed in 1999 thanks to funds from the Seamen’s Hospital Society. Planning for a completely new purpose built Home in the grounds of Weston Acres was already underway, and although there was no falling-off in applications for admission – in fact the opposite – and life at the Home continued normally, by 2000 its fate was settled. In March 2001 it was closed and the residents were moved to the brand new Belvedere Home at Weston Acres in a carefully planned and executed overnight operation. The site was sold for redevelopment as luxury flats, and demolition of the old Home began quickly afterwards.


Profile

My royal Alfred

Executive Assistant Margaret Brazier MNM Having spent more than 50 years at Royal Alfred Head Office, my CV is probably shorter than average and I recall John Moore, a former General Secretary of the Society, jokingly saying that I was either content in my job or too lazy to look for another. John later promoted me to become his secretary when he took over as General Secretary in 1978, a position I have retained ever since but upgraded in 2007 to Executive Assistant to Commander Brian Boxall-Hunt, Chief Executive. The fact of my long service with the Society is that I was fortunate to find my niche with Royal Alfred on leaving school, and I shall be forever thankful to Don Lafferty, General Secretary at the time, for giving me my first job within an organisation that I discovered to be wholly ethical and compassionate. Don provided a further opportunity for me a few years later following time off work to start a family. There was no maternity leave in those days but, providently, Mr Lafferty spotted my mother in Banstead and asked her if there was any chance of Margaret returning to her old job. My mother jumped at the chance of looking after her youngest grandchildren during their pre-school years and I was more than pleased to return to work to help out with the family finances, and resume the job I enjoyed with virtually the same Head Office team, some of whom I am still in contact with. Staff turnover at Head Office and within the care homes has generally been low and a warm feeling of continuity prevails throughout the organisation. Needless to say, there have been many changes in the past 50 years, not least the relocation (twice) of Belvedere House and (thrice) of Head Office, also in legislation governing care of the elderly, employment law and of course equipment. When I joined the Society as a shorthand typist in 1962, all of the typewriters were manual, the clatter of which reverberated throughout the offices, competing only with the incessant ringing of the telephone.

The number of Head Office staff in those days was considerably higher since all tasks were undertaken ‘inhouse’ and the majority of the accounting and record keeping was handwritten. The Monday morning post was delivered in mail bags and took two days to sort. Photocopiers were a relatively new concept and the machine at Head Office during the 1960s was used sparingly, not least because of its fiddly operation which required daily filling and discharging of photographic liquid, and use of specific paper which deteriorated over time, resulting in curling and image fade; copies were invariably typed wherever possible. Royal Alfred has become a way of life for me, with rarely a dull moment and countless projects and highlights, one of the most recent and memorable being awarded the Merchant Navy Medal in 2012 for services to seafarers and their families. This came as a complete surprise and a huge honour and it amuses me to recall that a course teacher once opined that I would never hold down a job. Perhaps I was a misunderstood teenager because I also recall the so-called office boy (a retired Merchant Navy steward) commenting that his first impressions of me were that I needed a kick up the backside but that I turned out all right! In conclusion, I wish to convey my warm regards and best wishes to everyone, past and present, connected with the Society, which I trust wholeheartedly will prosper and continue its worthwhile work well into the future. The words of a former resident, whose care needs had increased, come to mind and sum up the quality of care provided within the Society’s establishments. When given a choice of location, she replied: “I don’t mind where I go so long as Royal Alfred looks after me.”

PROFILE My Royal Alfred

41


1968

1969

Adjoining Hotel to the Eastbourne Home purchased

1968

1969

Weston Acres House converted into self-contained flats owned and managed by the Royal Alfred Housing Association

The story and the places Part 1

Chapter 6

Belvedere House, Weston Acres, Banstead: 2001-2013

By 1997 the world of care for the elderly and infirm in the United Kingdom, whether in the community or in residential homes, had changed so much from how it had been when the Royal Alfred was formed back in 1865 as to make comparisons between them almost meaningless. One constant remained: the Society’s primary mission to care for aged and/or infirm former seafarers and their dependants. In 1959 the Society had read aright the signs of the times and had built a new Home at Erith which was at that time the last word in design and practicality. However, as soon as 1978 ‘new’ Belvedere House was already recognised by the Board of Management as being unsuitable for purpose and impracticable to modernise, and the Society embarked on the long and fraught business described in Chapter 5 of moving the Home far away from Erith to what was the more practical but not ideal former convalescent home off Holly Lane in Banstead. Now, after only another 20 years and with occupancy at Belvedere Home, Holly Lane, at a steady 85 per cent of capacity, the Board, noting how demand for respite and convalescent care was continually on the increase, began to plan to build a new 54-bed nursing home in the extensive grounds of Weston Acres House, the property the Society had bought in 1967 as described in Chapter 4 and which is still used by the Society today. In 1998 they were encouraged in this idea by Westminster Health Care Limited approaching the Society with a view to building at its own expense a 60-bed Nursing Home on the land used for grazing down the slope from the Holly Lane Home. The project gathered momentum in the following year and soon ran into the seemingly inevitable obstacles and difficulties. The original intention was to build a new 56-bed Belvedere Home to the north of Weston Acres House and to develop the latter by adding 12 more flats in a new extension and refurbishing 13 units in the existing House

42

PART 1 The Story and The Places

at a total cost of £2,804,000, while Westminster Health Care would build a new 60-bed nursing home on the Holly Lane site and also be appointed the Manager of the new Belvedere Home. By building the new Home from scratch the Society could ensure that it would meet all the physical and environmental criteria laid down in the Department of Health and Social Security’s National Required Standards for Residential and Nursing Homes for Older People. While the work was underway the residents of Weston Acres would be moved into temporary accommodation at Holly Lane or into the Royal Alfred Home in Eastbourne or in Banstead. The appropriate planning applications were submitted to Reigate and Banstead Borough Council in January 1999. Spokes were then stuck into the wheel by Weston Acres House being listed Grade II in March and in the following May by Westminster Health Care withdrawing from the project. The Society was not deterred and on 15th September it was granted planning permission and listed building consent for a new 56-bed nursing home with a ten-bed close care unit, and the refurbishment of Weston Acres House to provide 12 improved sheltered housing units, while permission was also given for a new 60-bed nursing home on the site in which Westminster Health Care had been interested. The cost of the works on the Weston Acres site was estimated at £3m including irrecoverable VAT, fitting out and other associated expenditure, and Warneford Associates Limited were appointed the building contractors. The architects were Christie & Co.


1970

1970

Edward Heath (Con.) becomes Prime Minister

Work commenced in early 2000. The new Home was scheduled to be finished by the end of January 2001, while the refurbished accommodation in Weston Acres House was to be ready by that April. In the event the Society took possession of the Home on 12th March 2001, and the residents of the Holly Lane Home (112 permanent and 30 in respite care) were successfully moved into their new accommodation under the watchful eye of Home Manager Andy Sowamber. Shortly afterwards Holly Lane was sold, as described in Chapter 5, and redeveloped as luxury flats.

On 17th May 2002 HRH The Princess Royal, who became the Royal Patron that same day in succession to HM The Queen, formally opened the new Home. The actress Penelope Keith, who was the High Sheriff of Surrey at that time, visited the Home on 2nd September in the same year and unveiled a plaque recording the grants and donations received towards its cost. Further success came in 2003 when the Home won the Pinders’ Healthcare Design Award. As mentioned earlier, the Society had intended that the provision of the ever more complex operational and administrative management of the Home should be outsourced to Westminster Health Care.

That plan fell through, but the Board of Management, soon finding that providing intensive service and care to elderly and vulnerable people even in a modern care home, requiring as it did, access to expertise and information on a host of issues such as health & safety, human resources, premises management and operation, was too difficult and uneconomic for a small to medium-sized enterprise like the Society, agreed with Methodist Homes for the Aged Care Group (MHA) that from 1st July 2004 it would undertake the operational and administrative management of the Home. Management of the Society itself would remain exclusively with the Board. No redundancies in the care staff were anticipated, but staff at Head Office would fall from four full-time and one parttime to just two full-time, and it was envisaged that Head Office would return to Weston Acres from its outpost in Wallington. It does not seem that any shortage of expertise among the Home staff adversely affected the standard of care they provided: regular inspections of the Home by the

CAPTION:

Top right – actress Penelope Keith visits the home in 2002 Below left - HRH The Princess Royal meets nursing staff during her first visit as Patron in 2002

PART 1 The Story and The Places

43


1971

Supplemental Royal Charter drafted, with categories of beneficiaries to be widened

1971

1971

Name of Society to be changed to ‘The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society’, the number of fisherman being assisted making ‘Merchant Seamen’ inappropriate

CAPTION:

Weston Acres estate blanketed in snow, 2009

Care Quality Commission resulted in very satisfactory reports and the Home was assessed as being of ISO 9002 Quality Standard, for service and improvement of the quality of life for the residents. But the average income from (or on behalf of) the residents of the Home and the tenants of Weston Acres was estimated to be at least 20 per cent below the economic level for management and it was expected that outsourcing would mean lower outgoings. More economies in cost were brought about by insisting that the tenants in Weston Acres would henceforth be able to live wholly independently when they moved in, and if they needed care later this would have to come from the social services. The outsourced management contract with MHA lasted for seven and a half years and worked satisfactorily. Freed from detailed administrative business and encouraged by the improved financial state of the Society the Board could concentrate on the development, improvement and rationalisation of the Society’s properties and administration and thereby enable and inspire the Society to fulfil its mission to provide the best possible service to its beneficiaries in modern and fully equipped premises. Where there had been a deficit in 2003, there was a small surplus in 2004. The occupancy rate at Belvedere Home in 2004 was excellent: an average of 148 residents and 21 more in respite care over the year. The emphasis on assisting former seafarers and their dependants was gratifyingly both real and successful: in 2004, 99 new residents of the Home and tenants in Weston Acres were accepted, of whom two-thirds were either former seafarers or dependants of seafarers.

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PART 1 The Story and The Places

2006 was also a year of fundamental change for the Society. The decision was taken to close the Royal Alfred Home in Eastbourne, to bring Head Office back from its exile in Wallington, and to appoint a Chief Executive instead of a new General Secretary when Mr Alan Quinton retired from that role in September. So, in January 2007 the Royal Alfred Home was closed and in July it was sold, the proceeds to be applied to improving and extending the Belvedere Home by creating a new 12-bed and three sheltered flat annexe specifically for the accommodation of residents living with dementia. Head Office returned to Weston Acres, saving £12,000 a year in rent, with a staff now slimmed down to the Chief Executive and his administrative assistant. Occupancy continued to be high and the Board felt able to make further improvements to the Home: in 2008 its lounge was extended and made capable of holding events for up to 100 people, and a start was made on the overhaul and remaking of the gardens and grounds of the Weston Acres site.


1973

Royal Navy ratings admitted to Belvedere Home by arrangement with The Royal Naval Benevolent Trust

1973

1973

Worldwide oil crisis

Progress in 2009 and 2010 was hampered by the world financial crisis, stiff local resistance to the Society’s application to build the special dementia annexe and the heavy snowfalls during the winters of both these years, heavy enough to cut off Weston Acres altogether for a while in February 2009. Permission was however granted and work on the new annexe got underway in 2010. It was

By 2012 the Princess Royal Annexe was full and the Home was at maximum occupancy. In June however MHA dropped something of a bombshell by announcing that it was terminating its management contract in six months’ time. The Board was greatly shocked by the abruptness of this decision but took it in its stride, recruiting a new Business Manager and engaging specialist

completed in April 2011 and formally opened in July by, and named after, HRH The Princess Royal to universal praise and satisfaction. The whole of the ground floor of the Home was refurbished, a conservatory was added and a hairdressing salon opened in the Home. A careful and imaginative plan was set in train for making the Home more comfortable and home-like by for example hanging marine and other paintings, displaying sea-going memorabilia such as a ship’s binnacle, and fitting (and populating) an ornamental fish tank above the piano in the lounge. In 2012 energy-saving solar photovoltaic panels were fitted on the roof of the Home at a cost of £36,000, which was covered by a very generous donation from the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity.

contractors to provide financial services and advice on human resources, health and safety, clinical governance and monitoring and information technology. The departure of MHA as of 31st December 2012, though much regretted, passed without disruption and business resumed as usual in 2013.

CAPTION:

HRH The Princess Royal formally opens the specialist dementia care unit in 2011, as Chairman Captain Duncan Glass looks on

PART 1 The Story and The Places

45


Part 2

Chapter 7

The People and the means Our People

The Residents In the words of an early resident of the Society, “There are them as goes to sea and them as don’t”. This viewpoint is still relevant today because it speaks of the innate and in many ways unfortunate divide between seafarers and nonseafarers. Historically, it has been common for those who have spent their entire working lives at sea to seek the company of other seafarers while on leave and after retirement. The Society was founded to provide a ‘safe haven’ for worn-out sailors, but this did not just mean care and financial support; it meant reassurance, of being surrounded by like-minded individuals with similar backgrounds and needs, of having the opportunity to make new friends. To expand on the title of this book, it gave returning seafarers with otherwise limited and often bleak options a place they could call ‘home’.

So safe on shore the pensioned sailor lies And all the malice of the storm defies With ease of body, blest and peace of mind Pities the restless crew he left behind While in his cell he meditates alone On his great voyage to the world unknown.

William Somerville (1675-1742) Quoted in the Society’s 1964 Annual Report

46

People have been central to the Society’s mission from day one. From the very first ‘inmates’ to our residents today, all have known that the Society would give them something its non-seafaring counterparts never could. Many aspects of the Royal Alfred have changed over the years but it is still in effect that same ‘safe haven’ offering retired seafarers and their dependants a unique environment of care and companionship suited to their specific backgrounds and needs. Indeed, the current residents’ information brochure reads: “We want to make Belvedere House a ‘home from home’ for all our residents.” It appears, however, that the Home environment is somewhat ‘friendlier’ for today’s residents than it was for the first who moved there in 1867. Good order and discipline were mandatory and the rules and regulations stricter and more detailed perhaps than they would have been aboard ship. Until the 1960s, men who had spent their entire working lives at sea, for upwards of 40 years in some instances, predominated among the occupiers of berths in the Royal Alfred Homes. Unsurprisingly, this had the effect of distinguishing them very markedly from their contemporary firmly


1974

General Election: Harold Wilson (Lab.) Prime Minister

shore-based ‘landlubbers’ - an informal term for a person unfamiliar with the sea or sailing - with whom they had, and it seems preferred to have, little in common. The demand was there for a home especially for seafarers. The founders of The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society were well aware of this attitude in 1865 and its Belvedere Homes were established and administered accordingly. This did not mean the men would be mollycoddled. Living conditions were considerably better than they would have been on board ship but uniforms of thick blue serge - a type of twill fabric that has diagonal lines or ridges on both sides - were compulsory and there was, as mentioned, a comprehensive set of rules and regulations. The only way you could benefit from the Home’s help and support was if you realised it was a twoway street – you in turn needed to be dutiful, devout and deferential to others. This does not appear to have been an issue - the vast majority of those who qualified for admission regarded themselves as highly fortunate, enjoyed the comfortable conditions and were, on the whole, very content.

1975

Advertising in Annual Report for first time Cunard included among others

1975

1974

overcome and overjoyed by the news, in 1881, that he had been selected for admission that he had a heart attack and died of shock. The following letter is a strong example of how residents at the time viewed their new home and would have made for highly pleasant reading for those who had toiled to launch the Society a few short years previously:

The original intention was that the Home should be extended to accommodate 500 residents, but funds never sufficed and the maximum number it could take was 250 using a cubicle system. In practice, the accommodation was in open wards until 1866 and limited for financial reasons to 115 or so. The mercantile depression of 1869 to 1876 had a severe impact on the Institution and there was great competition among seafarers for admission during most of the rest of the 19th Century. It is recorded in the archives that, according to the then Secretary and House Governor, Captain Thomas Tribe, one Bill Blanchard was so

PART 2 The People and The Means

47


1975

1975

Weston Acres roof replaced, funded by King George’s Fund for Sailors

While the 1867 ‘Rules for the Government of the House’ may seem a little strict by modern-day standards, it probably would not have occurred to the residents at the time; indeed, after a regimented life at sea, such a routine might have boosted the reassurance factor. The following extracts give a flavour of what was expected:

Rules for the Government of the House • • • • •

All Swearing and Improper Language…is most strictly prohibited. That disgraceful vice, Drunkenness, which is so contrary to order and decency, the Men must know cannot be permitted. Smoking in the Sleeping Wards, [etc.] is strictly prohibited; it will be allowed only in such places [as are] set apart for smoking, and in the Grounds. Lucifer Matches are also strictly forbidden. It is to be perfectly and distinctly understood that every Man entering this Institution is to make himself generally useful, to assist in every kind of work for the common good of all, and in fact so as to conduct himself as he would do in his own home. Every Man to be in his place before Grace, but not to commence his meals or leave his place until Grace has been said.

Daily timetables were drawn up, like this one:

Daily Timetables At 8 a.m. (7.30 a.m. in summer)

The Men to rise and wash

9 a.m.

Breakfast and Prayers

10 a.m.

The Industrial Ward will be open for the Men to work at their several occupations, at their pleasure and their own profit, less cost of material supplied

1 p.m.

Dinner, after which they can amuse themselves about the Grounds, Reading Room or in the Industrial Ward

6.30 p.m.

Tea, after which Reading and Recreation

9 p.m.

Prayers, and retire to their Cabins to bed

9.30 p.m. (10 p.m. in summer)

Lights Out, with exception of Night W.C.

Divine Service was to be held on Sunday mornings at 9.30 a.m. and afternoons at 3 p.m., and there would be prayer meetings every Wednesday evening at 7 p.m.

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PART 2 The People and The Means

There is no mention in the archives of permission being available to take ‘shore leave’ and stay away from the Home, but the men were able to visit the local pubs.


1975

1975

Captain Tony Braithwaite joins Board of Management

1975

Hotel at Eastbourne added to Ladies’ Home and administered as one

By 1982, the old rules and strict timetable had long gone, but good order and decency of behaviour were still expected of the residents. The tone is set by a short note of advice called ‘Welcome aboard!’ written by General Secretary, John Moore, in 1982, which each new resident of Belvedere House in Holly Lane, Banstead, was requested to read!

Who decides where I shall live here? Our doctor and the Matron, because they know best what accommodation is most suitable for you. When they have decided, that’s it. When are the mealtimes here? Breakfast 8.30 a.m. Dinner 12.15 p.m. Supper 5.30 p.m. Can I sit anywhere in the mess room? No. When you join you will be shown where to sit, and you must sit in that place for every meal. If you want to move to another table, speak to the Housekeeper and she will see what she can arrange. Can I go on holiday if I want to? Yes, you may take three weeks [of] holiday per year.

Outings

Throughout the year many day outings for residents are arranged and they will cost you nothing. There are coach trips to places of interest…sea trips and so on. Always watch the notice board. That is where they are announced.

Bar routine Opening hours - every day from 10.30 a.m. to 11.45 a.m. and 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

The Matron makes arrangements for men in the wards who cannot get along to the bar.

Complaints If you have a complaint, do not growl about it to anyone around who will listen to you. TAKE YOUR COMPLAINT

TO A PERSON WHO MAY BE ABLE TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. This is the House Governor or, in his absence, the Matron. You will get a sympathetic hearing and, hopefully, satisfaction.

Discipline

To maintain Belvedere House as a place in which you are content to live, we have to have rules about conduct. Fortunately we very seldom have to exercise them. To combat drunkenness, the use of bad language to staff, fighting, the refusal to obey reasonable instructions and so on, the following measures are in force:

(a) (b) (c)

For the first offence - The House Governor hands a letter of warning to the offender. A copy of it is sent to the General Secretary and another is held in the office. For the second offence - Another similar letter is handed to the offender by the House Governor and the matter is reported to the House Visiting Committee. For the third offence – A third letter of warning is handed to the offender. After due consideration, the Committee will probably give authority for the man to be discharged from the Home.

PART 2 The People and The Means

49


1976 1976

Photo ©NFFO

1976

James Callaghan (Lab.) Prime Minister

EEC extends member states fishing zone from 12 to 200 miles

More than 30 years have passed since those ‘rules’ were given to residents on admission and it is extraordinary how much has changed since then. Today, as it has been for many years, the priority is the quality of care and quality of life for residents and tenants and there seems to be no question of the harmony in which residents and staff co-exist and no strict rules and regulations apart from those that ensure the ongoing happiness, safety and security of those who live and work in the Royal Alfred Homes. Chapter 9 looks in more detail at the many aspects of daily life at Royal Alfred through the years and Chapter 11 at the residents themselves, including the special characters that have particularly ‘stood out’ as exemplifying all that is good about The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society.

Women ashore Nearly 50 years ago, the first female residents were admitted to the Royal Alfred’s new ‘Home for Ladies’ in Eastbourne. Providing for retired stewardesses, Royal Navy ‘Wrens’ and the wives and widows of seafarers had long been an ambition of the late Mr Reginald Grout, Chairman of the Board from 1959 to 1963, and it was with some pride that ‘The Reginald Grout Memorial Home for Ladies’ opened in 1966. The Royal Alfred has long championed gender equality, the vital roles of women serving at sea, and the welfare of seafarers’ dependants. On 1st January 1976, the Eastbourne Ladies Home and next-door Hotel for seafarers were amalgamated to form ‘Royal Alfred House’ and started to admit men as well as ladies to encourage social mixing. Today, women make up around 50 per cent of the Home’s residents and tenants, some of whom are joined by their husbands.

Those who run the Society Society Presidents Over 150 Years There are a number of chapters and special features in this book that are dedicated to the people of the Society, meaning not only residents and beneficiaries but also the staff, the Management and supporters. This is one of those chapters. After all, it was people for whom the Society was founded, it was people who made the Society work successfully for the first 150 years and it is people who continue to inspire us today and remind us of our continuing and important role in the future. To highlight specific staff and members of management who have contributed so much would be to list each and every individual who has worked for the Society since 1865. Instead, we have provided an overview of notable individuals and events that particularly ‘stand out’ in the Society’s history. This is by no means exhaustive and does not attempt to identify all the special people who have made what is affectionately referred to as the ‘the Royal Alfred’ what it is today.

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PART 2 The People and The Means

1865-73 1874-76 1876- 85 1885-1919 1919-21 1921-32 1932-37 1937-52 1952-89 1989-94 1994-2015 2015-

Mr Thomas Baring, MP, FRS, FRGS Mr Henry Green Mr John Kemp-Welch Mr Richard Sims Donkin, MP, DL, JP Admiral of the Fleet the Most Hon. The Marquess of Milford Haven, PC The Rt Hon. the Earl of Inchcape of Strathnaver, GCSI, GCMG, KCIE The Rt Hon. Lord Runciman of Shorestone Sir Alan Garrett Anderson, GBE, MP The Rt Hon. Viscount Runciman of Doxford OBE, AFC Sir Ian Denholm CBE, JP, DL The Earl of Inchcape (promoted to Vice Patron from 29th May 2015) The Viscount Cobham (from 29th May 2015)


1976

1976

Financial difficulties increase

The Board It’s not just the residents that make the Royal Alfred a thriving seafaring community in its own right. The Board, which today meets once a quarter and is responsible for making key decisions for the continuation and improvement of Society activities, was and still is made up of people with professional maritime backgrounds. This has included the Royal Navy, the Merchant Navy, shipping companies, maritime trade organisations, marine insurers, unions such as Nautilus International (otherwise most commonly known, among other names in its long history, as the Merchant Navy and Airline Officers’ Association and then the National Union of Marine, Aviation and Shipping Transport Officers) and the National Union of Seamen (now part of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers). Some personnel have come from other maritime charities such as Seafarers UK (formerly known as King George’s Fund for Sailors), the Seamen’s Hospital Society and the Merchant Navy Welfare Board. This breadth of expertise means the Board has always had a thorough and intimate understanding of the individuals in the Society’s care, the challenges and issues they face and their welfare needs.

A number of changes have been made to the Board over the years to encourage diversity and attract and retain the very best people. This includes the appointment of the first female members, Mrs D. A. G. Dickens and Mrs M. K. Gibbs, in 1980. In 2006, the Board appointed the first and current Chief Executive, Commander Brian BoxallHunt OBE, MNI, who is instrumental in carrying on the business of the charity. This replaced the post of General Secretary, which had been in existence since 1865. To ensure continuing excellence in its membership, the Board and Chief Executive have, since 2008, routinely reviewed the spread of skills offered by existing trustees and made an induction session mandatory for new members.

Leading The Way

How is the Royal Alfred run?

Chairman 1939 Colonel N.C. Tufnell 1948 Sir James Corry, Bt 1951 Mr Geoffrey Milling 1959 Mr Reginald Grout 1963 Mr David Rooper 1991 Captain George Miskin, JP, DL 2003 - Captain Duncan Glass, OBE, MNM General Secretary 1865 Paymaster Captain Francis Lean, RN 1866 Captain Thomas Tribe, RN 1882 Mr J. Bailey Walker 1920 Mr Ernest L. Smith, MBE 1957 Mr T.A. East, JP, FIC S & Mr D.J. Lafferty (jointly) 1961 Mr D.J. Lafferty MBE, OStJ, JP 1979 Mr John Moore 1992 Mr Alan Quinton FCA (retired 2006)

Such has been the scale of development of the Society over the years and its commitment to continue to serve changing needs in changing times that its staffing structure has constantly evolved. Our goal is the same as it was 150 years ago: to help seafarers and to provide them with a safe haven in old age, illness, or adversity. Today, the Society provides a broad range of services, from sheltered housing to facilitate independent living, to residential and nursing care, to respite care and, since 2011, specialist dementia care.

CAPTION:

The current Board of Management at its April 2015 meeting

The choice and quality of service provided is solely down to the Society’s loyal, dedicated and hardworking staff, who create a caring, comfortable and enjoyable environment for all residents. This has been true throughout all of the phases of the Society’s evolution.

PART 2 The People and The Means

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1977

1977

HM’s Silver Jubilee

The two charts below clearly show the changes that have taken place in the last 50 years in how the Society is run and the different skill sets required in the management, care, welfare, activities, administration, maintenance, catering, housekeeping and all other aspects of running the Royal Alfred Homes.

Royal Alfred’s staff structure…

The Society’s people ‘stay the course’, showing commitment, tenacity and loyalty. This is literally true of staff and members who have been with the Society for longer periods of time, of which there are many examples.

…as of 2015

Longevity is particularly evident among the Board. The joint accolade for longest-serving trustee, at 37 years of service apiece, is shared by Albert Cope, who sadly passed away in 2009, Tom Way FCIPD, who retired in 2011, and Captain Tony Braithwaite, who was recognised for his contribution at the Society’s 2013 AGM. Tony is still a familiar face at Weston Acres after accepting our invitation to become Vice President, thus keeping a key connection with the Society. It is a sad fact of life at the Society that every so often we must say goodbye to some dear friends. 1991 saw the passing of David Rooper, who had spent 34 years on the Royal Alfred Board, 27 of those as Chairman. As well as contributing so much to the Society and being well-known in the shipping world, he was described as a ‘lover of fast and exotic motor cars’ by his old friend, Kenneth WoodwardFisher, in the address he gave at Mr Rooper’s Memorial Service on 20th September 1991.

THE ROYAL  ALFRED  SEAFARERS’  SOCIETY  

...and in 1962

STAFF STRUCTURE  1962    

BOARD  OF  MANAGEMENT  

       

    HEAD  OFFICE      

   

             

ALL ADMINISTRATIVE  AND  CASEWORK                       ACCOUNTING   CASEWORK                 PA  to  GEN  SEC   ACCOUNTANT   CASEWORK  SEC         BOOKKEEPER   SEC  to  CASE  SEC             TYPISTS   CLERK         RECORD  KEEPING                   TELEPHONIST           NURSING                             NURSING  STAFF               CARE  STAFF                                  

   

 

GENERAL SECRETARY  

BELVEDERE HOUSE  

ALL NURSING,  SUPPORT  STAFF,  FACILITIES  AND  ADMINISTRATION  

         

MATRON

HOUSE  GOVERNOR  

     

CATERING     CHEF   CATERING  STAFF              

         

     

ALL ADMIN                   DOMESTICS               CLEANING       AND       LAUNDRY       STAFF      

 

ESTATE SERVICES           MAINTENANCE   PORTERAGE   GROUNDS  &  GARDENS   TRANSPORT   H&S   SECURITY   BAR  MANAGEMENT          

In for the long haul When looking back through the people who have served the Society over the years, they all share one particular attribute - commitment. You walk in the doors of the Home today, speak to any member of staff, converse with the Chief Executive or a trustee, and the passion for the job – caring for former seafarers - is tangible.

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PART 2 The People and The Means

Among other distinguished long-serving trustees was Sir Brian Shaw, who died in 2011. Sir Brian served as a trustee from 1972 to 1993 and was also a member of the finance committee; on retirement from the Board he was appointed a Vice President until his death. As well as being involved with the Society, Sir Brian enjoyed a long career in the postwar shipping industry before becoming chairman of the Port of London Authority and the Automobile Association. Just a couple of years earlier, in 2009, we said a final farewell to the afore-mentioned Albert Cope who passed away at the ripe old age of 99. Albert had had a 42-year association with the Royal Alfred, including 37 as a trustee; his innate loyalty was also demonstrated by his 91-year attendance at Queen Street Baptist


1977

1977

Name officially changed to ‘The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society’

1977

Decision taken to close new Belvedere Home, Erith, and purchase of Zachary Merton Convalescent Home in Holly Lane, Banstead

Church in Erith! Even more recently, we said goodbye to former Chairman Captain George Miskin in February 2015. As well as being Chairman of the Society from 1991 to 2003, Captain Miskin was also a Past Master of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners and former High Sheriff of Surrey. He will be sorely missed. Key staff and managers too, have shown extraordinary commitment to the wellbeing of former seafarers and some of these have been honoured publicly for their services (as we wish they all could be!) Examples of this include Miss Gillian Bird, receiving an MBE, in 1979, in recognition of her service to the Society over 21 years, including as Deputy General Secretary, and being an active member of The Royal British Legion. In 2006, Pat Stockton, then Manager of Royal Alfred House in Eastbourne was awarded a Merchant Navy Medal for her service to retired seafarers. Margaret Brazier (then Kitney), who joined the Society as administrative assistant in 1962 and was later promoted to Executive Assistant, was acknowledged at the end of 2012 for 50 years of exemplary service also with a Merchant Navy Medal. Margaret celebrated her longevity in the Society with Anne Kasey in 2013, whose 30 years at the Society from State Enrolled Nurse to Care Home Manager helped make up an impressive 80 years of service completed between them! Anne was preceded by Andy Sowamber, who retired, in 2005, after 18 years of service, eight as House Manager. Also fondly remembered are Matron Pat Collins, who retired in 1999, and her successor and longtime deputy Edith Henry. Pat was the last ‘Matron’ at the Royal Alfred as this title was discontinued, in 1980, and replaced by the position of Officer in Charge (OIC). Pat was happy to share her memories with the author of this book and is a prominent face in the Society’s photo archives. Pat and Edith had forged a lasting friendship while serving together with the Princess Mary’s RAF Nursing Service in Aden in the 1960s. Both were trained Registered General Nurses and had

also served as district nurses, while Pat was also qualified in midwifery. Edith first joined the Society as staff nurse at Belvedere House in 1970 and later became Nursing Officer, where she remained until the home closed in 1978. Pat and Edith remained friends and served together again at Royal Alfred House, Eastbourne, Pat as OIC and Edith as Deputy OIC, rising to OIC in 1999 on Pat’s retirement. The author would also like to make a special mention of the long serving Captain R. J. F. Riley, who was House Governor at Belvedere from 1961 to 1978, for his contribution to this book. In researching the history of the Society, the author found many useful notes and reminiscences, all of which helped to provide unique contemporary insight and view into the Home and some of which have been used in this book. It seemed important to Captain Riley that records should be kept up-to-date, and indeed, the time he personally invested in ensuring the Society would be remembered for future generations has paid off. This passion for information was highlighted on Riley’s retirement as House Governor, in 1978; he became the Society’s first travelling secretary and public relations advisor, visiting ports around the UK to raise awareness of the Society and research trends in British shipping. Captain Riley was also seconded by the Merchant Navy Welfare Board and King George’s Fund for Sailors (now Seafarers UK) on a joint fact-finding survey into aged seafarers’ welfare, to assess what would be a highly significant need over forthcoming years for accommodation in homes for elderly male seafarers, elderly widows of seafarers and geriatric male seafarers.

CAPTION:

Matron Pat Collins (left) and deputy Edith Henry (right) at a Christmas party

PART 2 The People and The Means

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1977

1977

Scope of beneficiaries widened in Royal Charter to include seafarers of any nationality employed on UK ships, retired officers and ratings of Royal Navy and Royal Marines

Some of the many faces of the Royal Alfred, past and present 1

2

Officer in Charge at the Holly Lane Home, Banstead

Home Manager at the Holly Lane Home, Banstead

3

4

General Secretary

Deputy General Secretary

5

6

Officer in Charge at the Eastbourne Home

House Governor at the Holly Lane Home, Banstead

7

8

House Governor at the New Belvedere Home in Erith

Matron and Officer in Charge at the Eastbourne Home

9

10

Pat’s deputy who succeeded her as Officer in Charge at Eastbourne

Chief Executive of the Society at Weston Acres, Banstead

11

12

Domestic at Holly Lane Home, Banstead

Accountancy Assistant at Head Office

Miss Jeannine Hamilton

Mr John Moore

Mrs Pat Stockton MNM

Captain R. J. F. Riley

Miss Edith Henry

Mrs Wendy Mitchell

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PART 2 The People and The Means

Mr Andy Sowamber

Miss Gillian Bird MBE

Lieutenant Francis RN

Mrs Pat Collins

Commander Brian Boxall-Hunt, OBE, MNI,

Mrs Daphne Friday


2

9 6

7 12

10

3

11

5 1

8

8

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PART 2 The People and The Means

55


1978

Belvedere Home, Holly Lane, Banstead (ex Zachary Merton Convalescent Home) purchased No buyer found for Belvedere Home, Erith, which was closed

1978

Sixty-nine residents moved overnight to new Home

The Story of ‘The Royal Alfred Story’ Did you know ‘Home from Sea’ is not the first book to be written about The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society? We feel it appropriate at this stage to acknowledge the value of research and documentation in understanding the real differences between the Society then and now. To be more specific, we recall a book published in 1967 to mark the Society’s progress and achievements in its first one hundred years. Ahead of the Society’s Centenary of 1965, the Board decided to commission a history from its beginnings, but the development of what was eventually published in 1967 as ‘The Royal Alfred Story’ did not happen overnight! CAPTION:

Cover of ‘The Royal Alfred Story’, a book commissioned to record the first 100 years of the Society

In fact, initial efforts to appoint a suitable author took nearly two years, with various senior personnel approached, previous offers rescinded and requests declined. Good news finally came, in March 1964, when Mr Goldsmith Carter, an acquaintance of the then General Secretary Mr Lafferty, agreed that he would do the work at a charity rate of £300 because his father had been a resident at the Belvedere Home. However the Board was not satisfied with the quality of the first draft submitted in November of that year. Mr David Rooper, the then Chairman, mentioned a Mr A. Stewart McMillan who had written a history of Port Line Limited and was willing to have a go for £300. After initially instructing Mr Carter to submit a second draft, which also turned out to be unacceptable, the Board invited Mr McMillan (who had just been engaged to handle

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PART 2 The People and The Means

the publicity for the Society’s Centenary) to examine the earlier work and suggest how it might be edited into a satisfactory book. In June, he reported that this would be impossible, so the Board offered the job of writing a new version to Mr McMillan for a fee of 200 guineas – this was the term then for a pound and a shilling, a common unit of currency used to make certain purchases, such as art or horses. That, the new author said, was too little, but on the Board agreeing to reconsider when the work was finished he went ahead. Despite the substantial amount of research required, he submitted his first draft swiftly, in September the same year. After some further negotiations over Mr McMillan’s fees, a rather ungrateful request from the Board for him to “enliven the chapters to make reading them more palatable” and a contribution by Mr Lafferty to give it a bit more “local colour”, completion was now on the horizon. The Society’s President, Lord Runciman, agreed to write a preface and the Chairman was to write a conclusion on the future of the Society. Perhaps best of all, HM The Queen gave her permission for a message she had sent the Society for its Centenary to be published as an introduction. Compared to the editorial, printing was progressed relatively quickly and nobody seemed to mind when the book was launched two years late at the Society’s AGM, on 3rd May 1967. Readers’ feedback was positive, with around half of the books sold and the remainder given away to residents and friends, even though the Board had gone on record as not expecting “an overwhelming demand for the book”. It’s just as well it had increased the print run to 1,500 copies rather than the 500 originally planned! Today, ‘The Royal Alfred Story’ remains a useful account of the Society’s first 100 years and was an important reference tool in the writing of ‘Home from Sea’.


Profile

My royal Alfred

Chief Executive Commander Brian Boxall-Hunt OBE, Royal Navy “When can you start?” asked Captain George Miskin, Chairman of the Society. “Tomorrow morning if you wish,” I replied. “Just give me a phone to ring my wife and tell her I won’t be home to Devon tonight.” So started my connection with The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society in 2006; one which I count myself fortunate to have and has given me much job satisfaction. As it happens, it was another ten days before I actually started work as the CEO, at the Board meeting which voted to close our Eastbourne residential home; a sad but realistic decision, which I know the Board, to their credit, wrestled long and hard with. In truth, I had been pondering what, after 35 years in the Royal Navy, would be my first task when I switched the office computer on in my first civilian job; now I knew and was relieved to be on familiar ground; that similar to ‘crisis management’ which I had experience of. No-one else knew how to close a care home either – I was home and dry, off and running and, nine years later, yet to slow down (touch wood). As a priority, I moved the Head Office from its ‘temporary’ location in a factory unit five miles distant to a disused part of the Weston Acres estate I had especially renovated for the task; this enabled me to be close by to assist and support the Home senior management locally, and to gauge the situation myself at first hand – an old command trick. Looking back at my naval time, much of it had actually prepared me well for this particular challenge in civilian life, and many principles that had guided me were directly transferrable – just that I had to tread more softly and with care as I was no longer in a strictly disciplined naval environment dealing robustly with fellow servicemen and women, but civilians who appeared just as professional but guided and made up subtly differently. It seemed to me that my service career, mainly seagoing and with not only the standard navigation and seamanship skills of the professional mariner but also extra layers of gunnery and other specialist naval warfare expertise, together with command experience both afloat and ashore, gave me much to fall back upon.

On leaving the Service, I had been determined to maintain links with the maritime fraternity and use my experience to best advantage – leading the operations of the Royal Alfred matched these perfectly plus allowing me to put something back. When I joined the Society, it was well founded, providing an excellent service and a tribute to my predecessors. I feel truly grateful that nothing I have done has altered that; the Weston Acres site continues to provide excellent care and housing to those former seafarers and others who need it, and in some ways this has been extended and improved. The sale of our Eastbourne Home enabled us to invest money in the specialist provision of dementia care which now meets a real and increasing need – the 36-bedroomed unit has been full since commissioning in 2011, a sad indication. Looking back, I cannot think of any time when a challenge was absent from the work at Weston Acres; some have been pleasant, others less so, but we have always tackled them head on and solved them as a team, either at Board or management level. Able to view things more simply than most, a product of years in a seagoing profession steered, yet not stifled, by regulations and directives, an aim to leave somewhere better than one finds it has always seemed to me the best approach in life. So far I seem to have got away with it! We enter our 150th anniversary year with confidence, secure in the knowledge that since 1865 when the ‘Belvedere Institution’ came into being, the Society has been meeting the needs of all who qualify and turn up at our door, and I have every confidence that we shall continue for as long as necessary. At some stage in the distant future it may be that a care home in lovely Surrey countryside is no longer the only way to meet those needs, then our Royal Charter is flexible enough to allow us to provide whatever care, in whatever manner, is required, wherever it is needed. I hope to be part of the team delivering that for a few years yet, but, of course, I’m not the one who finally decides these things!

PROFILE My Royal Alfred

57


1978

1979

Scope of Royal Alfred Home, Eastbourne, widened to include women

1979

1979

General Election: Margaret Thatcher (Con.) Prime Minister

Part 2

Chapter 8

The People and the means The Society’s Mission

The objectives of the Society have changed and been refined in the 150 years since it was founded, demonstrating a continual appetite to improve the experience of everyone it helps. Among drivers of change have been the more complex needs of former seafarers and responsibilities of retirement care, the acknowledgement of a broader maritime constituency and practicalities such as playing to its strengths and forging links with other charities. CAPTION:

Top right – residents help to keep the Belvedere estate tidy in the early 1900s

CAPTION:

Below – resident helps to tend the pigs

The preliminary prospectus of 1857 proposed that a Hospital should be built “for Master Mariners, Mates and Seamen of the Mercantile Marine” who “must have served twenty-one years in British or Colonial Merchant ships, and be fifty years of age, or have been disabled while so serving”. Eight years later, the Deed of Declaration of Trust for the original Belvedere Hospital sought to broaden its offer, specifying “all ranks who had served in the Mercantile Marine of Great Britain and Ireland”. A more ambitious plan was revealed in an 1871 fundraising document for the Institution. Here, the Society aspired to provide a home for the “Infirm Merchant Sailor” when “aged and destitute of relatives”. It also sought to extend its efforts beyond the walls of the Home, undertaking to offer an out-pension to married former seamen and those living with friends or relatives. Significantly, it stated that the Home’s staff should be made up of the seafarers’ wives, widows or orphans wherever available. Intended to “benefit the Merchant Seaman as much as possible”, this was a progressive move for the times; Victorian charitable programmes tended to focus on brisk practicalities, moral improvement and the gratitude of those receiving assistance rather than their optimal wellbeing.

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Further evidence of the Society’s rare enlightened attitude came with the ruling that residents should be able to work within the Home in order to supplement their incomes, but only if they wished to use their time in this way. This was in stark contrast to the workhouse, where inmates had to work for their keep and were unpaid. The first Royal Charter, in 1950, welcomed a wider range of seafarers. As well as making those from fishing fleets eligible for support, a Home or Homes was to be provided for their widows or dependants, with free medical care available for all. The Society also continued its efforts to provide financial relief outside the Home, by adding warrant officers of the Royal Naval Reserve or Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, their widows and dependants to the list of those who could apply for financial assistance.


1980

1980

Belvedere House, Erith, finally sold

Seafarers of all nationalities who had manned British vessels and their dependants were included in the second Royal Charter, in 1977, while this also removed all qualifying ages for medical and other relief for the mariners and their families. A major amendment to the second charter made the Society even more inclusive by broadening its definition of the word ‘seafarers’ “to include employees of shipping companies, ship repairers, dock areas and port authorities”. Also becoming eligible for residence was anyone else it considered to have had a connection with the sea or shipping in their working lives. Indeed, the Society went so far as to allow those with no maritime occupational association to be considered at the discretion of the Board and only when in the position to do so. Although the third Royal Charter, dated 14th May 2014, includes the objective to “act as Trustee or alimoner to provide relief to seafarers of all ages and need”, the function has been in abeyance for nearly 20 years. This major separation of the Society’s services came in 1996, when the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society took on the administration of grants to eligible beneficiaries. The Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society, which celebrated its 175th anniversary in 2014, helped seafarers in some 2,650 cases of need in 2013 alone, distributing over £1.5m and improving their quality of life hugely, as it has done for decades. This transfer of responsibility followed a decision by the Board that the Society’s major strengths lay in

providing housing and residential and nursing care, particularly to the elderly, infirm or disabled. It was felt that its dependants’ interests would be best served if it continued to improve and develop these activities while financial services were taken on by a charity with more experience in the area. Administration of out-pensions had become increasingly demanding. Indeed, even by the Society’s Centenary in 1965, it was making payments to over 1,000 former seafarers, a hugely more ambitious undertaking than assisting the six original pensioners in 1866. At the time, it also supported the Widows’ Benevolent Fund, the Samaritan Fund, the Warrant Officers RNR Fund, the War Fund and the New Zealand Sheepowners’ Fund (established as an acknowledgement of debt owed to British seamen). All of these were later taken over by the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society.

CAPTION:

Top right – Anne Kasey with male resident at Holly Lane home

CAPTION:

Below centre – former female seafarers have been cared for by the Society since 1965, which saw the opening of the Ladies’ Home at Eastbourne

By freeing up the time spent on outpensioner payments and the various funds, staff could be more usefully deployed on residents’ accommodation and care. As a result, groundbreaking improvements and innovations have been made in the intervening years and the Society is now recognised as an exemplar organisation supporting former seafarers, many of whom are elderly and have complex health needs.

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1981

Application to Privy Council and Charity Commission to amend Charter to enable Society to offer places to others than those associated with the sea or who had served afloat

1980

1981

1980

Mrs Pat Collins appointed to Royal Alfred Home, Eastbourne, which is now open to both men and women

Part 2

Chapter 9

The People and the means Daily Life at The Royal Alfred

When you grow old and winter’s cold may pinch you so severe, When masts all gone and rigging torn you bear up for Belvedere… Our anchors are cast, our sails are all furled, we have weathered the ocean’s chiding, And safe from the buffeting waves of the world in ‘Royal Alfred’ haven are riding. This extract from a poem written by an anonymous Belvedere ‘inmate’ in 1885 seemed an appropriate way to start a chapter that explores everyday life at the Royal Alfred. Since the very beginning, we have been known for offering a ‘safe haven’ to former seafarers and their dependants; we believe this 130-year-old piece of writing is where the description originated. A safe haven can be many things to many people. It can mean the physical comfort in which one lives, a place in which one feels safe, a blessed period of relief after enduring difficult circumstances, and more... These states can only be reached in the right environment, through providing for the basic, emotional and intellectual needs of residents, and then going an extra step further to make life a bit more special. Here, we attempt to paint a picture of life at the Royal Alfred today and how it compares to other stages in its 150-year history. There is a significant difference in the circumstances under which residents arrived at the Royal Alfred in 18673 and those who arrive today. In exploring how daily life has changed at the Royal Alfred over a period of nearly 150 years, it is essential to explore the situation of the former seafarer before admittance to their new ‘home’.

A. Stewart McMillan paints a very bleak picture of the fate of those retiring from a life at sea after being set down in port for the final time. In his book, ‘The Royal Alfred Story’, he describes terrible hardships and societal attitudes. To quote the author: “Of the sailor of that time it was truly said : “Where he goes and how he fares, No one knows and no one cares.”” While McMillan admits that there were some exceptions to this rule, such as the East India Company which would make adequate provision for employees on retirement, there seems to be little evidence to suggest anything other than the majority of seamen were left destitute, many of these with physical, emotional or psychological needs caused by a hard life at sea. Any accommodation they found would be basic to say the least and affording the bare essentials would be a constant struggle, particularly for those too old or infirm to work. It was exactly this humanitarian crisis that charitable organisations such as the Royal Alfred sought to address. The first residents ranged from 61 to 80 years old. More than half of them had seen service of half a century or more at sea – some having begun in their teens with the youngest just eight years old!

The official date of the Society’s formation is 5th May 1865 but it was not until New Year’s Day 1867 that the first residents were admitted.

3

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1982

1982

Falklands Conflict

Today, most residents who arrive at the home are significantly older, 88 on average, and those who were seafarers will have served on average nearly 13 years each. Many of today’s residents have done other jobs, and on retiring spent as long as possible in their own homes before coming to the Royal Alfred, sometimes via other care facilities around the UK. Those joining from 1867 invariably came straight from service to the Home, unless they were out-pensioners, able to live independently elsewhere with the help of a grant from the Royal Alfred (this same service is still provided today by the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society). Until 1977, the Royal Alfred only accepted merchant seamen and their dependants in need. The Society was then granted a new Charter extending its benevolence to all mariners including Royal Navy, port workers, fishermen and their dependants.

Living conditions Many of the men coming to the Royal Alfred in the late 1800s would have spent the majority of their lives at sea, accustomed to cramped living quarters, inadequate sustenance and clothing and often dangerous conditions. When steam started to replace sail during the late 1800s and the early 1900s, ships could now dock at quaysides because they no longer had to anchor at sea waiting for a favourable wind. This created an increased need for seafarers to go ashore and changed the way they were paid – a few days after docking at the shipping company’s offices, instead of receiving their money onboard ship. Morale and companionship would generally be good among crew members, but on shore many faced social isolation due to the nature of their careers and were targeted by criminals. The most serious problem came in the form of ‘crimps’, tricksters making the most of the change in seafarer wage payments by providing sailors with money, alcohol, food and lodgings for the three or four days they were on shore, under the guise of hospitality. They would then charge the sailors exorbitant amounts usually equivalent to their pay packet, leaving them virtually penniless. Thankfully, charities such as the Mission to Seamen (now Misson to Seafarers) started to provide centres where seafarers could be offered light refreshments, recreation rooms, good

cheap accommodation and a chapel. These centres did not exist everywhere, however, meaning crimps continued to be a problem. With such challenging backgrounds, the first seafarers stepping on-site at Belvedere House in Erith, where they would be securely and well lodged and enjoy the company of others from similar backgrounds, would have felt relief beyond our comprehension. The first Belvedere House had been adapted to accommodate able-bodied residents in single cabins on the upper floors; those who required further care and support were housed in open wards on the ground floor. Accommodation was comfortable, meals were served in a large dining room and there were rooms for recreation, including a library, a games room, a Mess room and an industrial ward for crafts such as rope-making. Outside, there were ample grounds in which to walk, socialise with friends and enjoy bowls and other activities. Of course, wear and tear over time meant that by 1955, the 200-year-old Belvedere House had steadily become impossible to maintain due to very high labour and living costs. Nearly 90 years had passed, residents were becoming older and more infirm on admission, creating more demand for nursing care, and the accommodation that had been suitable in the early years now needed a dramatic upgrade. Inadequate heating was put under additional strain by high ceilings and large and draughty corridors; there was no lift but 27 stairs to be climbed from floor-to-floor; many of the cabins had no natural light... The list of gripes had lengthened and while staff were working hard to meet the needs of individuals in their care despite the challenges, the Board recognised that no adaptation of the Main Home could achieve the desired standards of comfort for the residents or bring about a more reasonable level of administration and maintenance costs. This led to the construction of ‘New Belvedere’, a modern, purpose built residence next door to the Mansion which would provide accommodation for able-bodied residents and hospital wards for those in need of nursing care.

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1983

1985

The wreck of RMS Titanic is discovered on 1st September

1985

1983

EEC Common Fisheries Policy created

Over the years, the Society has been proactive in adapting its offering to meet key needs and extend its help to more people. Chapters 1 to 6 show the journey from the first Belvedere Mansion to the current Homes we know and love today in Banstead.

It’s a bug’s life On the rare occasion, things have felt a little less comfortable at the Royal Alfred! In 1992, staff at the Royal Alfred home in Eastbourne made the unpleasant discovery of bed bugs nesting in some of the radio fittings attached to the wall of each room. It wasn’t known how long they’d been there but one thing for sure was that they needed to go, particularly when they started migrating from their warm radio boxes to the even warmer and more comfortable beds of the residents. Officer in Charge, Pat Collins, was horrified and having taken advice from the Home’s GP, with truly remarkable alacrity organised a day out along the Sussex and Kent coast for all the on-duty staff and residents in a specially hired double-decker bus, taking a picnic, a large bag of sweets, wine and other refreshments, with regular stops for coffees and teas. Meanwhile the offending bedding was removed from the house in large plastic bags and either burnt outside in the garden, with the fire brigade standing by just in case, or taken away by the local authorities. Because of the seriousness of the infestation the entire house had to be fumigated that very same day and when everyone returned home that night, having had a thoroughly enjoyable day, it was as though nothing had happened except everyone had clean bedding and there were no bugs!

A home away from home Today, the Weston Acres estate consists of Weston Acres House, which provides sheltered housing, and Belvedere House, which provides nursing care and specialist dementia care. The Home is set within expansive, accessible landscaped gardens for tenants, residents, and their families. But the Royal Alfred is so much more than simply a care home for seafarers. All newcomers are encouraged to add a personal touch to their living space by bringing their own furniture and belongings when they arrive. The houses are connected to each other to encourage a strong community atmosphere between tenants of the sheltered flats and nursing home residents. Like-minded companionship has always been a major draw of the Royal Alfred, from the first intake of former merchant seamen in

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1867 to today’s diverse mix of residents from Royal Navy, including the Women’s Royal Naval Service, Merchant Navy, submarine service, fishing and Royal Marine backgrounds. Most become part of a close-knit ‘family’ of people just like them, with amazing stories to tell, alongside whom they can enjoy what should be the most stress-free and peaceful time of their lives. And it’s not only residents that are part of the family; as explored earlier in the book, the Society was founded and still run by former seafarers, who understand the challenges and loneliness of a life at sea. What’s more, residents who are able have the opportunity to attend special maritime themed occasions each year, such as Seafarers Awareness Week events, the Society’s annual general meeting and the Annual National Service for Seafarers, which has been held at St Paul’s Cathedral since October 1905, apart from short gaps during the First and Second World Wars.


1

3

2

4

7 1 Antique cannon in front of the Belvedere Home

5

2 The Royal Alfred Binnacle 3 The life aquatic – the fish tank piano!

Walk within the walls of the Royal Alfred and you will immediately notice a nautical theme – whether it’s the paintings on the walls or the unique objects and features dotted around. This isn’t a new thing – even in the late 1800s, items were donated to the Belvedere Mansion, from nautical books, to a model of Eddystone Lighthouse (one of the most famous in the British Isles), to a large barometer presented to the Society in 1873, which continued to take pride of place for decades including in the entrance hall of the new Belvedere Home. Today, among the symbolic features of the Home are antique cannons, oil paintings, compass features on the floors, plaques, rope work, a

6 binnacle (a waist-high stand in which navigational instruments are placed for easy access or protection), and a blue piano topped with a fish tank! These well-loved and unusual items really add to the character of the Royal Alfred and honour the identity of the many former seamen and women in its care. Perhaps the most impressive object of all is the flag pole that stands proudly outside Belvedere House. The Red Ensign is still raised proudly on a daily basis.

4 Dementia care unit plaque unveiled by HRH The Princess Royal in 2011 5 Oil painting donated to the Society 6 Residents in the early 1900s making rugs out of rope 7 Compass design on Belvedere Home entrance hall floor

PART 2 The People and The Means

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1986

Lieutenant Francis, RN, retires as House Governor of Belvedere Home, Holly Lane

1986

1986

Miss Jeannine Hamilton made Officer in Charge at the Holly Lane Home

CAPTION:

Below - the entrance to Belvedere House, the Royal Alfred’s nursing home today

Weston Acres House

Belvedere House

Sheltered housing is a popular option for many older people, as it enables them to lead as full, independent and active lives as possible, with the assurance of good security and round-the-clock emergency support. Weston Acres House provides 22 self-contained flats of a very high standard, 12 in the two-storey listed building of Weston Acres House and ten ground floor units in a wing of the Belvedere House care home.

Next door to Weston Acres House is a fully staffed nursing facility capable of providing care to 68 male or female residents from seafaring backgrounds. The Home is committed to providing a warm and friendly environment where each individual is respected, supported and able to live as comfortable, enjoyable and independent a life as possible.

The housing has been designed especially for older people, with a lift in Weston Acres House. The rooms are let unfurnished, ready for tenants to bring in their own possessions and create a home to their own tastes. Each flatlet includes a WC, shower, kitchenette, television and adaptations such as handrails and wheelchair access. The ground-floor units have access to a patio area. The convenient location of the Weston Acres site means tenants have easy access to public transport and the local amenities of Banstead and Woodmansterne, and can maintain links with the community. They also have full access to the activities, services and on-site bar available at the adjoining Belvedere House.

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There are 68 single fully furnished, bright and cheerfully decorated bedrooms and residents are encouraged to make personal touches to their living space. There are three comfortable lounges, all with televisions, and two spacious dining rooms. The 95-strong workforce includes highly-trained nursing staff, cooks, domestic workers and activities coordinators. The centre caters for up to 36 residents living with dementia and offers high quality facilities, trained staff, a sensory garden and range of specialist therapies designed to enhance quality of life. The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society is one of the only care homes in the UK to offer inter-connecting rooms so couples can continue to live together while accessing specialist care.


1987

1988

House at Holly Lane sold

1987

1988

Great October storm

A focus on dementia care In 2011, the UK’s first specialist centre for seafarers living with dementia opened at Weston Acres, as an extension of Belvedere House, after staff identified that 40 per cent of residents at the time had some form of dementia. With 850,000 people in the UK currently thought to be living with dementia, care facilities like Belvedere House are becoming more important than ever. Since then, we have seen at first-hand the positive impact early diagnosis and dementia therapies can have on sufferers. Here’s a quick look at our commitment to dementia care:

A national contribution In early 2014, the Society took part in a study to assist with medical research into the healing effects of music therapy for dementia sufferers

Memory boxes These are present in each room in the centre and contain objects and photos from the resident’s past

Singing and music sessions These stimulate long-forgotten memories and can have powerful effects on a person’s state of mind, helping to improve confidence and self-image

One-to-one support Tenant Ros Ellis received specialist training from the Alzheimer’s Society to become a ‘Dementia Champion’ and regularly helps in the annexe. She spends her time in one-to-one sessions with residents but also provides vital advice and guidance to family members, for example through regular coffee mornings

Specialist therapies Treatments such as reflexology can help to offset the feelings of isolation sufferers sometimes experience and improve quality of life

Adjoining rooms Allow couples to continue to live together, particularly important where one or both partners have dementia

Highly trained staff We have invested in training for our staff and employed extra activity coordinators to ensure the best possible quality of life for residents

Sensory garden A secure and soothing outdoor environment

CAPTION:

An example of a ‘memory box’ to help residents remember details about their life and past

PART 2 The People and The Means

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Food and drink No description of life at the Royal Alfred would be complete without looking at the food served to residents over the years. When the first mariners were admitted to the home in 1867, the fare would have been a lot better than they had received on ship. However, it seems basic by today’s standards and it’s safe to say the menus have changed out of all recognition. The bill of fare in 1867… BREAKFASTS

DINNERS

SUPPERS

SUN

Coffee & Bread & Butter

Roast Beef, Potatoes & Plum Pudding

Tea & Bread & Butter

MON

Cocoa & Bread & Butter

Vegetable Soup, Boiled Mutton & Potatoes

Tea & Bread & Butter

TUES

Coffee & Bread & Butter

Salt Fish, Onions, Potatoes & Plain Suet Pudding

Tea & Bread & Butter

WED

Cocoa & Bread & Butter

Vegetable Soup, Boiled Beef & Potatoes

Tea & Bread & Butter

THURS

Coffee & Bread & Butter

Roast Mutton, Green Vegetables & Bread & Cheese

Tea & Bread & Butter

FRI

Cocoa & Bread & Butter

Pea Soup, Salt Pork & Potatoes

Tea & Bread & Butter

SAT

Oatmeal Porridge & Bread

Soup & Bouilli, Potatoes & Bread & Cheese

Tea & Bread & Butter

In summer, at dinner, salad would be given three days in the week instead of potatoes, and for supper, occasionally, bread and cheese and cress or radishes.

…and in the Centenary year of 1965... (these menus would run over a four-week period) BREAKFASTS

DINNERS

SUPPERS

SUN

Porridge or Cornflakes, Fried Egg & Bacon, Tea, Bread & Butter, Marmalade

Soup, Roast Lamb, Mint Sauce, Boiled & Baked Potatoes, Green Veg, Fresh Fruit & Ice Cream

Salmon Mayonnaise, Tea, Bread & Butter, Jam

MON

Porridge or Cornflakes, Scrambled Egg on Toast, Tea, Bread & Butter, Marmalade

Soup, Braised Steak, Boiled & Baked Potatoes, Green Veg, Baked Marmalade Roll

Smoked Haddock, Tea, Bread & Butter, Jam

TUES

Porridge or Cornflakes, Sausages & Spaghetti, Tea, Bread & Butter, Marmalade

Soup, Fried Calves’ Liver, Boiled & Baked Potatoes, Green Veg, Manchester Tart

Fried Egg & Chips, Tea, Bread & Butter, Jam

WED

Porridge or Cornflakes, Grilled Bacon & Tomatoes, Tea, Bread & Butter, Marmalade

Soup, Steak & Kidney Pudding, Boiled & Baked Potatoes, Green Veg, Creamed Rice Pudding

Cornish Pasties, Tea, Bread & Butter, Jam

THURS

Porridge or Cornflakes, Fried Egg & Fried Bread, Tea, Bread & Butter, Marmalade

Soup, Roast Best-End Lamb, Boiled & Baked Potatoes, Green Veg, Currant Roll & Custard

Egg Salad, Tea, Bread & Butter, Jam

FRI

Porridge or Cornflakes, Grilled Bacon & Sauté Potatoes, Tea, Bread & Butter, Marmalade

Soup, Fish & Chips, Fruit Tart

Cheese & Biscuits, Banana Bread & Butter, Jam

SAT

Porridge or Cornflakes, Grilled Kippers, Tea, Bread & Butter, Marmalade

Soup, Boiled Ham & Pease Pudding, Boiled & Baked Potatoes, Green Veg, Tapioca Custard

Grilled Sausages, Sauté Potatoes, Tea, Bread & Butter, Jam

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…and now – 2015

MON

TUES

WED

THURS

FRI

SAT

SUN

Deep Fried Battered Fish OR Poached Fish

Sausage & Lentil Casserole OR Creamy Vegetable Pie

Roast Beef & Horseradish Sauce, Yorkshire Pudding

Chips Peas Carrots

Mashed Potato Cauliflower Courgettes

Rice Pudding & Jam

Treacle Sponge & Custard

Fresh Fruit Yoghurt Cheese & Biscuits

Fresh Fruit Yoghurt Cheese & Biscuits

LU N C H Cottage Pie OR Lamb & Sweet Potato Curry with Rice

Braised Pork & Onion Gravy OR Salmon & Broccoli Quiche

Peas & Buttered Carrots

Mashed Potato Green Beans Grilled Tomatoes

Roast Turkey & Cranberry Sauce Roast Potato Mashed Buttered Swede Roast Parsnips

Chicken Casserole with Dumplings OR Mediterranean Vegetable Stew

Parsley Potato Broccoli Savoy Cabbage

Cherry Pie & Cream

Chocolate Sponge & Hot Chocolate Sauce

Whisky & Marmalade Pudding with Custard

Fresh Fruit Yoghurt Cheese & Biscuits

Rhubarb Crumble & Vanilla Ice Cream

Fresh Fruit Yoghurt Cheese & Biscuits

Fresh Fruit Yoghurt Cheese & Biscuit

Fresh Fruit Yoghurt Cheese & Biscuits

Roast Potato Buttered Cabbage Leeks • English Trifle Fresh Fruit Yoghurt Cheese & Biscuits

Jacket Potato, Salad and Omelette are also available for lunch

A F TE R N O O N TEA Fairy Cakes

Chocolate Muffin

Rock Cakes

Bread Pudding

Lemon Drizzle

Scones & Cream

Jaffa Cakes

SU P P E R Soup of the Day

Soup of the Day

Soup of the Day

Soup of the Day

Soup of the Day

Soup of the Day

Soup of the Day

Sandwiches

Cold Meat/Chips

Sandwiches

Sandwiches

Buffet

Cheese & Potato Bake with Baked Beans

Sausage Roll Chips

Cold Meats & Spaghetti

Fishcake & Chips with Mushy Peas

Cold Meats with Baked Beans & Mash

• Jelly & Cream

• Cheesecake

• Fruit Salad & Cream

Cheese on Toast • Blueberry Muffin

Jacket Potato with Tuna & Sweetcorn

Sardines on Toast

Banana Loaf

Chocolate Mousse

Cakes & Scones • Bananas

At the Royal Alfred, we believe good food can play an important part in improving quality of life and we serve thousands of delicious and healthy breakfasts, lunches and dinners every year. In 2011, the Society published an online recipe book as part of a campaign to urge people to take care of their hearts after research showed that those who are obese in middle age are four times more likely to develop dementia in their later years. Chefs in the Royal Alfred kitchens produced the selection of recipes, called ‘Healthy Hearts, Healthy Minds’, using ingredients ranging from sea bass to spinach. Now residents and their families can even get a restaurant experience without even leaving the Home. ‘Seafarers’ Suppers’, themed dinner evenings, were developed to encourage residents, particularly those who may not be confident enough to go out for meals, to spend more time together with loved ones enjoying interesting and stimulating activities.

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1989

Sun lounge extension at Royal Alfred Home, Eastbourne

1988

1 Residents in the bar at Holly Lane home 2 Volunteer and a resident enjoy a chat in the Bar at Belvedere Home 3 HRH The Duchess of Gloucester (centre) admires a model ship handmade by an Indian resident (left), a former seafarer, during an official visit 2 to New Belvedere House for the Society’s Centenary in October 1965

1989

1989

David Gundry appointed to Board

Where’s the rum?

At your leisure…

It’s no secret that mariners enjoy a tipple. Indeed, in 1938, the Royal Alfred Committee’s precautions in the event of a Second World War included stockpiling three gallons of rum to raise the spirits, pun intended, of residents during air raids. Ironically, during the Second World War, the House was officially ‘dry’ due to cutbacks and rationing and the tunnels under Belvedere Mansion, which were meant as air-raid shelters, were used for illicit drinking, the result of necessarily strict restrictions in wartime.

The Society has always been committed to helping residents pursue their own interests and creating opportunities for them to socialise and take part in rewarding activities. Hobbies have played an important role in the lives of residents from the beginning, from gardening and ropework at Old Belvedere Mansion Erith, to painting and model making at new Belvedere House.

3

4 Bowls has always been popular among Royal Alfred. See residents in action in the 1930s...

1

The Royal Alfred has had an on-site bar for many years, important for mariners, but unusual for care homes. Today the bar is frequented by sheltered housing tenants and nursing home residents alike and is a thriving social hub. The local pubs, The Woodman and The Woolpack, are also popular with tenants and residents. Both of these establishments are loyal subscribers and supporters. For example, The Woodman has in the past occasionally provided Christmas and Remembrance Sunday meals for residents at a special discounted price.

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Reading, playing scrabble, real bowls and carpet bowls, bridge, painting, chess, darts, knitting and cricket have proved popular over the years. For many years bowls matches were arranged between the Royal Alfred Home at Erith and the Royal Hospital Chelsea. While Royal Alfred almost always lost, the day was seemingly enjoyed by all and received quite a lot of coverage in the local press. From what can be ascertained, these bowls matches were discontinued during the Second World War and recommenced shortly afterwards. Due to the higher age profile of residents now, sadly such friendly matches are no longer held.

4


1990

Weekly cost of residents £47 pppw compared to Old Belvedere, Erith, at 11s 0d pppw. This meant that in 1890 the Society could not afford more than 100 residents; a century later, it couldn’t afford fewer than 100

1990

Margaret Thatcher resigns

1990

John Major (Con.) becomes Prime Minister

There is a full schedule of activities held at Belvedere House throughout the week, including flower arranging, bingo, card games, exercise, treatments such as manicures and reflexology, and a quiz in the bar. All events are arranged and supervised by a dedicated member of staff. There’s even an on-site hairdressing salon, with residents looking forward to the days the salon is open and they can have their hair done and chat with friends.

5 ...And enjoying carpet bowls in the 1980s

6

For many years, there has also been a programme of outings, organised and funded either by the Society or by other ex-servicemen’s charities such as The Not Forgotten Association, ‘Lest We Forget’ and The British Legion. These excursions have included boat trips on the Thames and the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. Groups from the Royal Alfred also regularly go to London for events like the Buckingham Palace Garden Party, the Royal Alfred’s AGM at Trinity House in London, Merchant Navy Day on Tower Hill and the Annual National Service

6 Cartoon by a former staff member, known as Nik 7 Resident listens to gossip in the hair salon

for Seafarers. Trips on pleasure steamers operated on the Thames have always proved popular with some dating back to the early 1920s. Slightly less ambitious, but still as enjoyable, have been trips on canal boats sometimes combined with visits to ‘real’ steam engines.

7

5

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1991

1991

Moore retires as General Secretary, replaced by Alan Quinton (centre)

1991

1991

George Miskin appointed Chairman of Board on retirement of David Rooper

CAPTION:

Staying connected

CAPTION:

Perhaps one of the most significant changes to daily life at Royal Alfred has been due to the evolution of communication and information technologies, both of which have been embraced by staff and residents alike.

Left – nurse uses a computer tablet to log resident’s information Right – Eastbourne home ladies all dressed up for Buckingham Palace garden party

CAPTION:

Below – Royal Alfred residents take on the public in a tug of war aboard a Thames steamer in 1935

In 2014, nurses and managers were equipped with computer tablets in order to further improve the level of communication between team members and day-to-day note taking. An electronic messaging system allows staff to contact each other quickly wherever they are in the home and information about care and medication are now easier to read than previously when everything was recorded as handwritten notes.

Due to the nature of their careers, seafarers often find themselves isolated from family and friends and on retirement it is common for them to live far away from loved ones, particularly if they require residential or nursing care. Fortunately, many residents at Royal Alfred receive regular visits from friends and family. In addition to traditional methods, an effective way to keep in touch is ‘online’, using technology like Skype as mentioned, which is particularly valued when loved ones live abroad and visits are less frequent. A few residents have their own computers to stay in touch with friends and relatives and there is also a dedicated computer suite in the lounge.

The Society’s current website www.royalalfredseafarers.com was launched in 2011, which is an important part of its wider marketing activity. The Society also has a loyal following on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, including families and friends of residents. This helps to spread the word about the charity’s work online and reach even more people, including existing and new supporters and potential beneficiaries. This is also a great way of engaging with the younger generations and other charities. Among those who are proactive online are Age UK, the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society, Sailors’ Society, Seafarers UK and The Alzheimer’s Society.

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Social media plays a big part in sharing Royal Alfred events and announcements with the world...

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1992

Home recognised by Local Authority as an Approved Provider of Care under Community Care Act 1993

1993

1992

1993

Sir Ian Denholm retires; the Earl of Inchcape becomes President

The People and the means Part 2

Chapter 10

Care

From place of refuge to full service care home

In Chapter 1, we saw that the original purpose of the Society in the 1860s was to establish “a Hospital for Worn-out and Disabled Merchant Seamen”. CAPTION:

The Geoffrey Milling Wing

The word ‘hospital’ then meant a place where such people could be safely and happily accommodated for the rest of their lives, as opposed to the medical facility it refers to now. Until just after the First World War, the Society did not provide care for the Home’s sick or disabled residents. Instead, they were transferred to the Seamen’s Hospital in Greenwich.

When the new Belvedere Home was constructed at Erith, in 1958, it incorporated a purpose built infirmary ward, called ‘The Geoffrey Milling Wing’. Similarly, a hospital wing was specified in the building conversion at Holly Lane, Banstead.

In 1924, a Bristol ship owner, Mr Bernard Lucas, donated £5,000 towards the estimated £20,000 cost of a hospital in its modern sense, a place for treating the sick and seriously injured. The balance was quickly raised and Belvedere Manor House, standing opposite the Belvedere Home at Erith, was bought and converted into what was named the Infirm Home. Admitting its first patients in January 1926, the new facility was welcomed by residents as they would no longer be separated from their old friends should they fall ill. An added attraction for them was that the Infirm Home had central heating, while the old Belvedere Mansion was unheated, with the inevitable result that they took every opportunity to report sick in winter months! This was the first step in the Society’s gradual move from being simply a place of refuge for former seafarers to residential home with full medical care from an individual’s arrival until the end of their life.

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As a result, residents became progressively older at their time of admittance. The shifting demographics that followed its broader role meant that the resident population’s need and priorities were profoundly altered, as were the Society’s responsibilities and obligations. Clearly, providing full-time nursing care is a more expensive and complex undertaking than simply arranging accommodation and becomes ever more so over time.


1995

Weston Acres Housing Association wound up

1994

Channel Tunnel opens

1995

1994

Role of the State and the Charity Commission When the Society began, there was no state involvement in healthcare. Responsibility lay solely with the private institutions such as the great London hospitals, individual doctors or cottage hospitals that had been established privately or with charitable intent. The wars Britain fought from the middle of the 19th Century set in motion a long process of gradual change. They drove up standards of medical attention and care, with military hospitals and convalescent homes offering sick and injured servicemen much better treatment and aftercare than the general population enjoyed. However, civilian hospitals were quick to adopt the improved techniques and practices, as were doctors who offered advanced treatments in their surgeries and patients’ homes. The discovery of drugs such as penicillin replaced traditional remedies and the likelihood of people recovering from ill health and injury and living longer was greatly improved across all classes, except the very poorest. Government and society became more aware of and concerned about the suffering of the most deprived, not only in big city slums but rural areas. This led to a report being commissioned from Lord Beveridge in the middle of the Second World War on the provision of healthcare, social security and welfare generally. Published in 1944 and recommending that the state should take primary responsibility for their delivery, the Beveridge Report would bring about a social revolution with everyone becoming entitled to publicly funded medical and material support at the point of need, regardless of their means.

The incoming Labour Government of 1945 introduced legislation to bring this about, starting with the National Health Act a year later and followed by a succession of acts, regulations, enquiries, reports and white papers that aspired to the highest standards of care for the sick, injured, poor and aged. The process was accompanied by greater understanding of the causes of disease and the discovery of drugs for its treatment and cure on an unprecedented scale.

CAPTION: Nurse spends time with infirmary resident

As social security and universal care required very detailed regulation, organisations like the Royal Alfred found themselves compelled to submit to the authority of the state over how they looked after their residents. A further development saw an emphasis placed on caring for people in the own homes, rather than being compelled to enter a residential facility. Heralded by the Seebohm Report in 1968, implementation was most recently and comprehensively enshrined in the Care in the Community Act 1990, which came into effect three years later. Another outcome of this ‘revolution’ was that charities had to respond to how the changing lives and lifestyles of the old and infirm altered the age and circumstances of people at the time the institutions were invited to care for them. In addition, the drastic changes in the numbers and ages of these individuals often had to be reconciled with the strict letter of their charitable objectives. As a result, many had to apply to the Charity Commission to amend their objects, with organisations like the Society applying to amend their Royal Charters. This impacted on the Royal Alfred in a number of ways.

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1996

1996

Final Salary Pension Scheme closed to new entrants

1996

Royal Alfred’s grant-making function ceases and is taken over by the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society

CAPTION:

Three nurses at the Eastbourne Home

In 1980, the Home Office had written a straightforward letter to the Society about its authority to stock controlled drugs, confirming that as a registered nursing home no licence was required under the Misuse of Drugs Act. However, when responsibility for healthcare passed to the new Department of Health and Social Security, communications became increasingly complex and detailed and demanded far more compliance and reporting.

In 1999, the Society started gearing up for the registration requirement that 50 per cent of its care staff were qualified at NVQ Level 2 or above by 2005. It was obliged to register with the National Care Standards Commission in 2002, whose forms were very lengthy and demanded huge amounts of information. Submitted to deadline, the fact that no response was received for several months indicates how burdensome such regulations are and how little appreciated the effort made to comply with them. The Board was aware of how difficult it was for small charities to cope with every aspect of regulation and discussed finding a partner to share the load, preferably a marine or ex-servicemen’s organisation. However, the then General Secretary, Alan Quinton, believed that far from onerous and a waste of time and money, compliance with such initiatives as the Quest for Quality provided the Society with the valuable expertise needed to maintain and raise standards. This view did not prevail and the Board doubted that the Society could ever acquire and apply such skill sets and as will be seen, experimented with outsourcing some functions, such as expert advice on care, payroll and auditing.

Scope of Care and Remedial Treatment The 1998 Department of Health consultation document, ‘Fit for the Future? National Required Standards for Residential and Nursing Homes for Older People’, set new criteria for the registration of such homes. This had a great impact on the Society’s Eastbourne Home, because several of the bedrooms were too small to meet the required standards and none had en-suite facilities. As the necessary refurbishments and improvements were often impracticable, prohibitively expensive and hinged on listed building consent, some bedrooms had to be closed.

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Providing geriatric care had wide implications for all maritime charities. Applications for residency grew, but finite accommodation space and finances caused problems. In 1975, the Dreadnought Hospital, which then had only 50 per cent occupancy, suggested that the Society’s geriatric cases be transferred there to prevent closure. The proposal was rejected by the Board, although its reasons were not recorded in the minutes. As early as 1977, the Board was coming under pressure to take more infirm residents into the Belvedere Home’s Milling Wing, which would demand more geriatric beds and nurses. It accepted the increasing trend towards geriatric care but to ensure that those who became infirm after admission could be certain of an infirmary place, insisted that six beds were always available for cabin residents.


1996

National Required Standard for registering Residential and Nursing Care Homes introduced

1996

1996

More demand for respite care

In July 1980, the Board received the findings of an investigation it had ordered into the viability of boosting income by admitting more geriatric residents. The upshot was that no Government money was available to finance the fitting out of suitable accommodation, casting doubt on the exercise.

• Convalescent care for people following a stay in hospital, serious illness or operation

This was confirmed the following year - which saw growing demand while the means of meeting it remained elusive - when the Department for Health and Social Security formally refused to fund the project.

Retired seafarers and their families have always found this to be an extremely helpful way of making life more comfortable, for both the patient and the carer, for short periods.

Respite Care

Nursing

Another aspect of care provided over the years, but especially in recent times, has been what is known as respite care. This comes in a number of forms:

Clearly, very high standards of nursing are needed for elderly or infirm residents who have been hospitalised and highly skilled staff must be deployed as both care and medical treatment are required in most cases.

Giving those caring for the infirm in their homes a rest, or ‘respite’, by taking in the person in question for anything between one and three weeks

• Care for elderly people living alone, giving them a break from looking after themselves

A method of demonstrating to those interested in longer term care what the Society could offer them. In other words, advertising the charity’s services.

CAPTION:

The demand for respite care at Royal Alfred has been on the increase since 1996

The cost of recruiting and retaining top nurses was high as their wages were governed by national standards. New legislation eased this situation through the introduction of a new nursing staff category, which had the necessary credentials, but lower wages than those of state registered nurses. Nevertheless, the Society had to resort to hiring nurses and carers from agencies between 1958 and 1978, which was much more expensive than employing them direct. On one occasion, when the Milling Wing was full, with 48 patients and a waiting list, the Matron was forced to agree to the then exorbitant rate of £19 a week for an agency nurse. Board minutes frequently reported concerns about this and the need to increase the Society’s income enough to appoint its own trained suitable staff. The challenge of giving nurses and carers experience and training to the required national standard was accepted with great enthusiasm by the Society. One finds regular mention of the attainment of necessary NVQ levels in manager’s reports presented at triannual meetings of the Weston Acres Visiting Committee, at which levels of achievements are carefully scrutinised.

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1996

Plan to build a new 54-bed Home at Weston Acres site

1998

1996

1998

General Election: Tony Blair (Lab.) Prime Minister

CAPTION:

The Royal Alfred is so much more than simply a care home for seafarers – it creates a close-knit ‘family’ of residents, staff and relatives

Today, nursing care is of the highest possible quality, chiming with the Society’s overall objective of giving residents the best possible overall quality of life. Driving this is the philosophy that Belvedere House is a place where both seafarers and staff can always feel at home in a friendly, safe, comfortable environment.

From the 1970s onwards, though, nursing standards were raised generally and caring for patients, especially those with dementia, became more specialised. This led to staff problems that were more frequent and difficult to resolve. Common issues were the attraction of suitable candidates and/or providing them with acceptable salaries and conditions, but the Society’s House Governors, Officers in Charge and house visiting members did an excellent job of managing its resources effectively and employee turnover was low. Staff relations could also often be complicated by the no doubt well-meaning intentions of trade unions, which either represented the workforce or aspired to. For example, in 1977 (a year of nationwide unrest in the labour market) the Matron at Eastbourne disputed the demands of the local National Union of Public Employees’ (NUPE) branch secretary that it should be recognised as a negotiating body for workers despite the fact that not enough on the payroll were NUPE members for it to be.

Highly trained and motivated, nurses and support staff provide what is recognised as a superior individual care and support package by the charity and care home sectors, as well as regulating and inspection bodies. The attention each resident receives is tailored entirely to their distinct needs, rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Each is encouraged to take an active role in their own care regime, while friends and relatives are recognised for the vital role they can play in their wellbeing.

The cost of living, materials and food rose sharply in the 1970s and demands for wage increases became more frequent. In addition, pay rates were increasingly set for groups of employees by bodies like the Whitley Council for Nurses and Carers and the Society had no choice but to do its best to meet these demands.

Staff Conditions

Even as early as 1969, it had had to improve the wages of domestic staff, even if the rises seem modest by today’s standards: 3d an hour for females, 3½d for males. By 1975, more and more salaries were dictated at a national level by Government and in that year, the Board realised that those under National Staff Scales at Care Establishments were rising out of all proportion to the Society’s resources.

In the early days, staff did not need to be qualified. With domestic help readily available and tasked with most functions, employees gave the Board little trouble.

As a result, it came to the reluctant decision that the charity could no longer adhere to National

All staff are encouraged to develop their skills in clinical practice and communication. The Society believes that appreciation and acknowledgement for their contribution to the Home should always be fed back to them, maintaining high enthusiasm levels.

76

A long and sometimes acrimonious exchange of correspondence between the Society and NUPE followed. Their differences seem to have been resolved eventually, probably with the Society backing down as there are no references to the dispute in the Board minutes.

PART 2 The People and The Means


2001

1998

Pat Collins retires, succeeded by Edith Henry at Eastbourne

2001

1998

The Society takes possession of new Home at Weston Acres

Scales and a Board Salaries Review subcommittee would set wages and salaries in the future.

How problems in providing care have been resolved

It was not only pay that caused concern. Satisfactory working hours and other conditions also had to be offered and any changes brokered sensitively. In 1975, the Board decided that shift lengths in the Milling Wing did not meet patient needs and the House Governor and Matron devised new rotas, which were reluctantly accepted by staff.

In 1992, Belvedere and the Royal Alfred Home were approved by their local authorities as providers of care under the NHS and Community Care Act 1990. This triggered a steady flow of admissions sponsored by local authorities, the majority with high care needs, which in turn altered the character of the Homes and placed additional demands on their staff.

Problems persisted into 1980, with many grievances reported over conditions and salaries. These problems are thankfully a thing of the past. Today’s highly motivated staff enjoy a pleasant and supportive working environment, with a generous pension scheme, employee assistance and advice programme, and ample training provided. Staff in all departments are encouraged and supported to train relevant to their roles. Eighty-eight per cent of staff have NVQs in level 2/3 in Adult Health and Social Care and two staff nurses are currently studying NVQ Level 5 in Management. All remaining care staff are currently receiving apprenticeship training. The Royal Alfred takes great pride in staff training and retention as both help to create a permanent and dynamic corporate culture.

CAPTION:

Resident undergoing an eye health check

Although by 1995, there was still a significant number of self-funded residents, the majority of new arrivals came via contact with more than 20 local authorities. However, the Board was still able to claim that Royal Alfred Homes were the residence of choice for seafarers and people with seafaring connections. It recognised that they were chiefly converted from other uses and could not compete with modern, purpose built sheltered housing and long term care homes, especially over en-suite single bedrooms and high quality bathrooms and toilets. In response, the Society launched an ambitious accommodation and facilities upgrade by building a new 56-bed nursing home with a ten-bed close care unit from scratch, as well as refurbishing Weston Acres House by introducing 12 improved sheltered housing units. The new home opened its doors on 12th March 2001 when the 142 residents of the Holly Lane Home were moved into their new accommodation without incident. The new Belvedere House was formally opened by HRH The Princess Royal in May 2002. A Care Standards Commission inspection the same year, found that the Homes provided services of “the highest quality to improve and sustain the residents’ quality of life” in all respects.

Staff satisfaction is high with only four per cent staff turnover in 2014, compared to the sector average of 20 per cent. In a 2014 staff survey, 100 per cent of respondents said that their job satisfaction was met or exceeded.

However, in 2003, the Board looked to raise standards further still. It recognised that running care homes and sheltered housing was becoming increasingly labour intensive and the acquisition of the expertise needed to work with vulnerable people financially challenging for small to medium sized enterprises.

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2001

2002

HM The Queen’s Golden Jubilee

2001

2002

Mrs Spencer new manager of Royal Alfred Home, Eastbourne

As such, the decision was taken to contract the Homes’ operational and administrative management to the Methodist Homes for the Aged Care Group (MHA) from 1st July 2004.

However, although the rising use of agency workers had been contained, the Board believed that the recruitment of more permanent staff would lead to further cost savings.

There was no doubt of the need for ready access to information on a host of issues such as health & safety, human resources, premises management and payroll. However, opinions differed on whether outsourcing of these functions was sufficiently necessary to justify the considerable costs incurred, with the Society paying the MHA £110,000 in the first year of its contract.

In 2010, at the invitation of the Board, the Institute of Public Care conducted a thorough audit of the Society’s business and reported the following year that it should adopt a new set of policies and renew the MHA contract. As such, it came as a shock when the MHA announced, in June 2012, that for reasons of its own it would end the management agreement on 31st December that year.

Despite this, the arrangement went ahead in anticipation that service thresholds would be maintained and cost savings would result, leaving the Society to concentrate on a higher standard of care. There were no redundancies among care staff, but the Head Office payroll fell from four fulltimers and a part-timer to just two full-timers.

Following the contract’s termination, the Society decided to resume all the administration via outside contractors specifically engaged for particular functions. This arrangement has worked well since then and in December 2013 the Care Quality Commission awarded the Home full marks in every respect, with all staff receiving a Christmas bonus in appreciation of their contribution to this outstanding result.

The head office was moved back to Weston Acres from Wallington, leading to a saving of £12,000 per year. The Board stressed that management would remain firmly in its hands and recorded that it hoped break-even would be achieved by 2008. The decision that all tenants admitted to Weston Acres must be able to live independently when they arrived led to a further economy. Any subsequent care need was to be met by local Social Services (though the Society would help in an emergency), relieving some of the pressure on nursing services for Belvedere House residents. In 2004, the Board expressed satisfaction with the first six months of the MHA contract. Financial performance had improved dramatically, with an operational surplus of £69,000 compared to a £171,000 deficit the previous year. The Society’s Annual Report for the next four years continued to applaud the arrangement.

2005: Royal Alfred House scored ‘4’ by the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI), which was better than standard but included a note of difficulty in attracting residents. Three staff made redundant in June, four more in November.

2006: BH scored ‘4’ (Good) by CSCI for Activities, Social Inclusion and Recruitment Procedures.

2007: CSCI inspection in August produced best report since Home registered: rated ‘4’ (Good) in Residents’ Social, Cultural, Religious and Recreational Interests, and ‘3’ (Good) in all others. Eighty-three per cent occupancy. Residents needing nursing care up from 50 per cent in 2001 to 85 per cent, requiring more carers and staff.

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2003

Decision to outsource care home management to Methodist Homes for the Aged

2002

2002

2003

HM The Queen withdraws her Patronage of the Royal Alfred; HRH The Princess Royal replaces her

Maritime Charities Group The Maritime Charities Group (MCG) is the new name of the Maritime Charities Funding Group (MCFG), a working group made up of maritime charities that make grants to support organisations. Its members are Seafarers UK, Trinity House, the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity, the Merchant Navy Welfare Board, Nautilus International (as the UK ITF affiliate), the Seamen’s Hospital Society, and Greenwich Hospital (observer status).

In February 2015, the MCG published a report called the ‘UK Seafarers’ Demographic Profile’, after it commissioned the Institute of Public Care at Oxford Brookes University to undertake a project about serving and former Royal Navy (RN), Merchant Navy (MN) and Fishing Fleet (FF) seafarers and their dependants, including projections to 2050. The project in part builds on the findings of earlier work reported in the MCFG’s ‘Supporting seafarers and their families’ study in 2007.

THE MCG REPORT - SOME KEY FINDINGS • • • • •

The number of former RN, MN and FF seafarers totals 633,000, of which 358,000 are aged over 65 Former Royal Navy personnel expected to decline steadily over the coming years, as the Second World War and National Service generation passes on Among former MN seafarers and fishermen, although there will be a decline in total numbers, a rise in those aged over 65 is projected, particularly those aged 85+ Numbers of former MN and FF seafarers aged 85+ are projected to increase by more than 275% between now and the 2030s, while in the RN sector the number of seafarers aged 85+ has already peaked The number of ex-seafarers’ dependants is estimated to be 687,000

CAPTION:

Left - reflexology and other therapies provide a calming and enjoyable experience for residents

CAPTION:

Below right – activities at the Home are designed to support health and wellbeing. Most are also suitable for individuals with dementia

As such, the Royal Alfred is already making preparations to match the experience it provides residents to the anticipated requirements of a growing intake with Merchant Navy and fishing backgrounds and connections, aiming to tailor services, accommodation and care to their needs, although not to the exclusion of the needs of other former seafarers.

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Profile

My royal Alfred

Care Home Manager Anne Kasey I started working at Belvedere House on 23rd April 1983. I was a State Enrolled Nurse. My mother saw an advert in the local newspaper for a qualified nurse’s job at Belvedere House and having been abroad for three years I thought this would do me very well for six months or so and here we are 31 years later! I had my two children in 1986 and 1989 respectively, and returned to work quite quickly after both were born. There were 44 beds downstairs for the frail residents and 28 cabins upstairs for independent residents. When I started there were only three ladies, all seafarers, and now 50 per cent of our residents are ladies and they tend to be dependants of seafarers rather than having served themselves.

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PROFILE My Royal Alfred

On the ground floor there were wards, the biggest being a 12-bedded ward which was wonderful to nurse in and the men enjoyed the company. The staff and the residents had such good fun with all the banter that being an ‘old salt’ implies. I can remember when the first Army resident came into the Home. The poor man had to put up with so much banter from the rest of the residents and huge arguments would break out that the staff had to sort out! On March 12th 2001 we moved into Belvedere House at our current location in Woodmansterne. Leaving the Holly Lane site was very difficult and a very sad day for me. I had spent 18 very happy years there. I could see the benefits for the residents though and the new home was beautiful, set in lovely grounds. Once we were fully ensconced in Woodmansterne, new equipment became available on the market, such as improvements in moving and handling hoists and there was an increase in the staffing levels, which made a difference.


Profile

During 1992 I obtained my Registered Nurse qualification. Mr John Moore (the then General Secretary) had generously agreed to support the course and it meant I could further my career. In 1996 I became the Nursing Sister at Belvedere. The Society has always supported staff with relevant training and this is reflected in the level of care that has been given over the years. In 2006 Andy Sowamber resigned from the post of Home Manager. The post was advertised and I was in two minds as to whether to apply as I loved the deputy role that I was working in at that time. However, looking to my future, I decided to apply and was fortunate enough to get the position. I worked on Christmas Day in 1983 and was very surprised that only one visitor came that day. He was the son of a resident and was one of five children. Most of the residents had large numbers of children but very few stayed in touch. I believe this was due to the length of time the seafarers had to stay at sea as the voyages took so long. The personal relationships of the seafarer suffered as a result. During this time we did not have visits from social services, local authorities and very few family members. It meant that the staff were the residents’ families and advocates. With many having so little family support their funerals were attended by the staff members only and on two occasions I have taken the lead in the service. We have ensured that ‘send offs’ have been a fitting tribute to their contribution.

This money was quickly spent on alcohol and cigarettes, just a matter of a couple of days for most! We had a very large bar area and the more independent residents who had drunk too much would lie down on the floor where they were. This was in the days before a lift was put in. The staff were unable to take these residents up the stairs and so would put a pillow under their heads, cover them with a blanket and close the bar up until they were able to get themselves back to their rooms. Staff were very often called upon to break up fights between the residents after they had been drinking. Our residents are very frail these days and although some enjoy the occasional drink, it is a good few years now since we have had issues surrounding alcohol intake. I think having more ladies in the Home has also made a difference to the overall atmosphere. One aspect of life in the home that has remained consistent over the years is the story telling and the camaraderie between the seafarers. They have such a pride in their collective histories. The trustees always put the resident’s well-being first and this ethos radiated through to all the staff and remains the case today. It has always been evident throughout the years that staff turnover is extremely low. This does not seem to change over the years. I believe it is because the staff enjoy their work at Belvedere and feel valued and well rewarded for their efforts.

The vast majority of the residents used to queue up every Thursday morning to receive their ‘pocket money’ (the amount left over from social services).

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Part 2

Chapter 11

The People and the means The Residents

In the following pages you’ll meet some of the characters that have resided at Royal Alfred over the years, each with their own personal story and impressive achievements. It was probably one of the author’s most trying editorial challenges to have to select just a few for a limited number of pages, but we think these people epitomise everything that is wonderful about Royal Alfred residents.

“Along the road in Holly Lane The Royal Alfred stands: A home for ancient mariners Who’ve sailed to many lands.” Extract of a poem by Pamela Burnett, former barmaid at the Royal Alfred’s Holly Lane Home © 1989

Roy Ticehurst Popular among residents and staff alike, Roy is a tenant at Weston Acres House. Born in Hove, Sussex, in 1923, Roy joined the Royal Navy aged 18 in 1942 and was based at HMS Royal Arthur in Skegness where he undertook many diverse roles, including gunner and Morse code interpreter. Roy also spent time as a naval guard in Sri Lanka, protecting members of the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS). During the D-Day Landings on 6th June 1944, Roy was actively involved in laying ramps to help Allied tanks to cross the beaches while fighting was going on all around. He also remembers vividly clearing bodies of fallen comrades after the area was hit badly by mines. Since the war, Roy has continued his support of those in the armed forces and retired seafarers. To raise funds to help those in need, he sold poppies for more than 30 years and has attended a number of commemoration events in Trafalgar Square. Roy moved to Weston Acres in 2003 with his wife. They spent seven pleasant years living together there until she sadly passed away in 2010. Today he continues to share his wartime memories with other residents and has led a number of talks to raise awareness of the war with local school children. In 2014, Roy was awarded the exclusive ‘Lest We Forget Bradford Exchange Award’ to honour contributions and sacrifices made by him and his fellow servicemen on D-Day.

DID YOU KNOW

The Royal Alfred once cared for a veteran called Fred Morris, who was present on dreadnought HMS Marlborough at the Battle of Jutland on 31st May 1916. This was the largest naval confrontation of the First World War.

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Mrs Florence Parsons (1894-1997) Florence, who had worked as a stewardess from 1936 to 1964, was one of the Royal Alfred’s longest serving residents, having lived in three of its homes, including Weston Acres House. Florence sadly passed away in 1997 aged 102, after 30 years as a tenant or resident.


Ethel Moss (1907-2005) A former ballet dancer, Ethel is fondly remembered by staff and trustees of the Society. She first moved to Weston Acres House in 1982 with her husband George, who had been a Cunard Cruise Line pensioner in respect of his service ashore with the company. When George sadly passed away in 1995, Ethel dearly wanted to be by the sea and so was transferred to Royal Alfred House in Eastbourne, where she remained until her death in 2005. Ethel is remembered for bringing fun and laughter to the Royal Alfred homes and for being a lady of great poise and decorum. Having enjoyed a long professional career as a dancer, she was still very active, and her party piece was to carry out high kicks followed by the splits, which she was still able to do at the age of 85!

Royal Alfred Weddings To the knowledge of those still living today, there have been three weddings involving Royal Alfred residents in the Society’s 150-year history. Kate and Patrick Bayley (pictured below right in the newspaper article) Kate and Patrick both lived at Royal Alfred House in Eastbourne and after a long courtship, married in April 1989. The reception was held in the BBC lounge of the Home having been organised by Officer in Charge Pat Collins and fellow staff members. Patrick and Kate are remembered as a lovely couple; he was very quiet, she was outgoing and always laughing. The Society’s records don’t detail Patrick’s specific background but it is known that Kate served as a Wren during the Second World War. Following Kate’s death in 1993, Patrick continued to live at Royal Alfred House until 12th August 1997 when he was transferred to Belvedere House. He passed away shortly afterwards on 23rd August 1997.

Joyce and Bill Boyd Both former sheltered housing tenants, Joyce and Bill met at Weston Acres in 2001 and married on Valentine’s Day 2006. Many staff, residents and tenants attended the wedding at Sutton Registry Office, with a piper also in attendance. The couple then moved to their native Scotland a few months later. Sadly Bill has since died.

Sarah and Charles Taylor Sarah and Charles married in March 1979 while both living at Royal Alfred House in Eastbourne. Charles had formerly been a resident at Belvedere House in Erith, before transferring to Eastbourne in 1978, where he spent a few happy years with Sarah until his death on 1st February 1982. Sarah died in the October of the same year.

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Charles ‘Fred’ Morris (1899-2001) By Trustee Captain Malcolm Lowle During the 25 years that I’ve been associated with The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society, I’ve been privileged to meet and form close friendships with a large number of quite extraordinary individuals. The person who particularly ‘stands out’ for me is the late Fred Morris. I met Fred soon after he arrived at Royal Alfred House in 1989; I was convalescing at the home after major surgery. Fred would visit me every day to see how I was getting on. He was quite a short individual, well-dressed, gentle, soft-spoken, sharp and exceedingly modest - a true gentleman. He was also a widower and spoke frequently of his wife with huge affection. At first he hardly mentioned his service in the Royal Navy, but gradually it emerged that having joined up at the age of 15 in 1915, he had been present on HMS Marlborough, one of the great 25,000-tonne Iron Duke-class dreadnoughts, at the Battle of Jutland on 31st May 1916. This was the largest naval confrontation of the First World War. He recalled the excitement: “I realised something was about to happen when the ship suddenly increased to full speed and engaged the German fleet with the heavy guns from the starboard side. I was young, had never seen action before and was keen to engage the enemy.” Fred, although a gunlayer on one of the port side guns, never fired a shot but witnessed the early stages of the battle that raged about him. “I was on the wrong side of the ship for action so didn’t get the opportunity to fire at the enemy. It was a shame. I would have liked to have a go at them!” The Royal Navy, having sacrificed armour in favour of speed and firepower, took heavy losses, prompting Vice-Admiral Sir David Beatty, commander of the battle-cruiser squadron, to famously comment after two of his ships were blown up within minutes “there seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today”. Marlborough’s involvement ended after an hour when she took a direct torpedo hit not far from the gun that Fred served. The damage was extensive, resulting in flooding to one of the boiler rooms and a dignified return to the East Coast of England for repairs. Amazingly only two of the 1,100 souls onboard were killed. The battle claimed the lives of 6,100 British servicemen and 14 British destroyers and cruisers were sunk. The German fleet lost 2,500 men and 11 ships but although British losses were heavier, in the two and a half years that followed Jutland, the German fleet never again took on the might of the Royal Navy. Fred continued his service life, retiring briefly in 1938 when ‘peace in our time’ seemed to be the sentiment of the day, but was recalled in 1939 when once again the clouds of war were closing in. He finally left the Navy in 1945 having served in both World Wars. There followed a 15-year Post Office career in London before Fred retired to Seaford on the south coast and then in 1982 relocated to Eastbourne. With slightly failing health Fred moved to Royal Alfred House in 1989 and he couldn’t have been happier, particularly in 1991 when he was invited to attend the memorial service for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland. Accompanied by Pat Collins and five other UK veterans who were fit enough to travel, he took the ferry to Denmark where they were all welcomed and entertained by the dignitaries and townsfolk of Esbjerg on the North Sea coast of Denmark. Fred proved immensely popular with the Danish media and gave a number of interviews. Prior to the journey to Denmark, Fred had met seven other Jutland veterans on HMS Belfast permanently moored in the Thames by Tower Bridge. Apart from being greeted by a Vice-Admiral in full regalia, there was also a team of naval divers some of whom accompanied the veterans to Denmark. From Esbjerg the five veterans fit enough to travel, accompanied by Pat and the divers, were then taken to the actual site of the battle where, in the wardroom of the supply vessel they’d travelled on, the veterans watched as the divers visited and filmed a

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number of the sunken British and German warships, all of which are designated as war graves. It was a very moving occasion. A special service of remembrance led by a Royal Naval padre was then held during which wreathes were laid over the wrecks. It was the last visit by veterans to the site. There are no Jutland veterans alive today. Seven years later, aged nearly 100, Fred was invited to attend the rededication of the newly refitted HMS Marlborough at Portsmouth, which was attended by an illustrious company of lords, ladies, admirals, councillors and of course the 185 officers and ratings of Marlborough commanded by Captain Jamie Miller. Having decided that he was actually too old to board the immaculate warship due to its rather steep ladder, moments later Fred was seen striding along the deck having been persuaded by the crew to come on board! It had been 81 years since he’d last set foot on a ship called ‘Marlborough’. At the end of his visit, Fred said: “This new ship is wonderful. I was a gunner at Jutland and in those days ‘Marlborough’ had a crew of 1,100 men. I served in both World Wars, so in my 30 years in the Navy, I had ten years of war and 20 years of peace. This has been a great day; it takes me back a bit I can tell you! Thank you all.” Soon after on his 100th birthday, Fred had a surprise visit from the Commanding Officer of HMS Marlborough, together with a team from Eastbourne Sea Cadets. He lived to the grand old age of 102 and died peacefully in his room at Royal Alfred House. I was privileged to have known him.

Joyce ‘Betty’ Walsh (1922-2012) Betty joined the Royal Navy during the Second World War as a Wren stationed in Greenock, Scotland. This is where she met her husband Jimmy, who was also in the Royal Navy. Her wartime duties included liaison work with the Canadian and US Navy, helping to plan the D-Day landings with pins and putting out enemy incendiary bombs with sand. After the war Betty returned to civilian work, which included a post at the Ministry of Aviation. When Jimmy retired, they spent 35 years in Broadstone, Devon. Betty was widowed in 1994 but spent a further 15 years in Devon actively involved in the Women’s Institute, taking part in many activities and helping on the committee. In 2008, she moved into sheltered flats at the Royal Alfred, where she was able to enjoy independent living until her condition necessitated a move to the nursing home as a resident, where she remained until her death in 2012. Betty had two sons, David and Peter. In 2010, David said: “With such a vibrant and diverse past, Betty could not have done without the support of The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society. We are so proud of her for the service she has done her country. That’s why she deserves to enjoy these years of her life in comfort and safety, as do so many like her.”

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Ferguson Smith (1914-2013)

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Captain William Hedley Kett DSC* RD* RNR (1913-2014) Captain Kett was a Royal Naval Reserve Submarine Commander and a highly decorated naval officer of the Second World War. After the war he became a Thames pilot. Other achievements include an appointment as Aide-de-Camp to HM The Queen in 1967 and being made a Younger Brother of Trinity House in 1971. In 1940, Kett made five trips as First Lieutenant of the HMS/M Clyde, a submarine transporting vital supplies from Gibraltar to Malta. This was during the Siege of Malta, where Italian and German forces were battling against the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force for control of this strategically important island. The submarine was able to break the blockade of Malta by carrying much needed fighter aircraft fuel in her ballast tanks on a number of occasions. This was dangerous as carrying such low density liquids in ballast tanks posed serious stability problems for the vessel – it was Kett’s job to manage this particular aspect of the operation. He was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) for his role in the Malta campaign and a Bar was added to his DSC for his subsequent service in command. He spent nearly eight months as a sheltered housing tenant at the Royal Alfred in 2008, before being transferred to a home more suitable to his requirements.

Geoffrey Talbot Geoff is one of our longest-standing residents, having moved to Weston Acres in 1992. Originally from the mining village of Clayhanger in Staffordshire he was a mechanic in the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy during the Second World War and was stationed for three years in the jungles of Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) where his duties were split between maintaining a wide range of service aircraft and protecting members of the WRNS who were also posted there. When his period of active service ended, he joined the Merchant Navy as a ship’s radio officer and was at sea for 41 years.

“If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would not want to leave Royal Alfred.”

Geoff sought somewhere he could retire happily but still retain his independence, while enjoying the companionship of people with similar backgrounds. Having moved into a flat in Weston Acres House he has made a number of long-term friends and enjoys the social aspects of life at the Society. When asked if he would have done anything differently in his choice of retirement home, Geoff said: “If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would not want to leave Royal Alfred.”

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2004

MHA Care Group management agreement commenced from 1st July

2005

2004

2005

Anne Kasey succeeds Andy Sowamber as Manager of Belvedere Home

Part 2

Chapter 12

The People and the means Friends of The Society

Throughout the Society’s history, it has enjoyed the unstinting support of individuals from every background and many outside organisations. Their contributions have been vital as the Royal Alfred adapted and evolved to meet the changing needs of those in its care, the demands of more progressive state social provision, regulations and legislation and the increasingly sophisticated expectations of an informed public. Without this help, sponsorship and cooperation, it is unlikely that the Royal Alfred would be the world renowned enterprise it is today – and it would certainly be a very different one. Its achievements would have been harder won and the range of services provided to residents in its 150th year would not be as broad, nor delivered to such high standards. Certainly, the Society would not have been able to continually

improve and pioneer a unique experience of care and camaraderie for retired seafarers and their dependants. From the start, the Royal Alfred enjoyed the enthusiastic support of the royal family, as is borne out by its unwavering service as patrons. Indeed, it was honoured that HM The Queen fulfilled this role for half a century before HRH The Princess Royal graciously took over, in 2002.

Patrons 1868 -1900 Admiral HRH Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh KG, KT etc (Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha from 1894) 1876 -1914

HRIH The Duchess of Edinburgh (Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha)

1894 -1901 Captain HRH The Duke of Cornwall and York, RN, KG, etc 1901 -10

Admiral HRH The Prince of Wales, KG, KT, etc (the former Duke of Cornwall)

1910 -36

HM King George V (the former Prince of Wales)

1936

HM King Edward VIII

1936 -1952

HM King George VI

1952 -2002 HM Queen Elizabeth II 2002 -

HRH The Princess Royal4

On her Golden Jubilee, HM Queen Elizabeth II relinquished many of her responsibilities and commitments and HRH The Princess Royal succeeded her as Royal Patron of the Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society

4

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2006

2006

Commander Brian Boxall-Hunt appointed Chief Executive

2006

Decision taken to close Royal Alfred Home at Eastbourne

Volunteers On a day-to-day operational level, the Society simply could not have managed without the long procession of enthusiastic and committed volunteers who have lent their time, energies and skills so generously down the years. And it’s not just a matter of practical support. Undoubtedly, one of the most effective ways that residents come to feel part of the community is by local people visiting the Home and joining in with activities there, helping meet their needs and accompanying them on trips and visits. Until a few years ago, this was arranged informally. The House Governor would make links with local organisations, clubs and societies and encourage residents to participate in their activities, games, flag days, fêtes and other fundraising events, concerts and carol services, both in the Home or the locality. As long as residents were relatively able-bodied and wore the Royal Alfred uniform they could take part in or simply attend local events, both for their enjoyment and to ‘fly the flag’ for the Society, rather like the Chelsea Pensioners do for the Royal Hospital. In recent years, these routes have not been as readily available. Not only is the resident profile very much older and more infirm, those who spend time with them must meet a raft of regularity standards for those working with old or vulnerable people. As such, today’s volunteers must not only be considered right for their roles by the Society, but also qualify under stringent statutory requirements and be cleared by the Disclosure & Barring Service. Following a concerted volunteer programme, in 2013, their numbers increased dramatically and there are now 30 - each of them available to help out at the Belvedere Home. This is a very healthy uplift on the complement of eight or so on the books just a few years ago and their contribution is regularly reported and applauded in the Society’s communications, publicity material and Annual Report.

There is always room for more, though, and new volunteers are warmly welcomed provided they are active and attend regularly. New people arrive by word of mouth recommendation, because they are relatives of residents, in pursuit of work experience to support medical or care training, or in response to media articles or events such as the Home’s open day, which is held annually as part of Seafarers Awareness Week, a campaign championed by Seafarers UK. They come from widely diverse backgrounds and bring an impressive array of skills and experiences, while the fresh impetus, drive and enthusiasm displayed inspire residents and staff alike. Although the Royal Alfred values its volunteers and what they bring to the Home enormously, it acknowledges that volunteering is mutually beneficial and aims to ensure that anyone who gives up their time gets something useful in return. As such, the Society offers all volunteers the experiences and opportunities that best match their interests and ambitions, so they can achieve personal goals from working with it. With this in mind, it recently redesigned its induction literature, rewrote all role descriptions and produced a new handbook as part of the 2013 volunteer programme, which was linked directly to Investing in Volunteers, the UK quality standard for organisations that work with volunteers.

Partners Partner organisations are also key to the Society’s ongoing stability and, therefore, it has worked with bodies that share its aspirations, or have similar aims or interests, since its inception. The close links forged between the different agencies have fostered long-term cooperation, trust and mutual support, leading to help in times of crisis, cross promotion, an ongoing exchange of tips, intelligence and experiences and the lending of capabilities where one has a greater depth of resource in a particular area.

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Profile

My royal Alfred

VOLUNTEER AND TENANT Ros Ellis After working as a nurse for many years and then in occupational health, I did not take to the idea of retirement easily! I knew I could still enjoy working with people and had a lot to offer so I embraced the idea of voluntary work. I worked for MIND, Meals on Wheels and the Citizens Advice Bureau after I retired. When my husband Les and I moved into our brand new flat at The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society in April 2011, I became a volunteer to befriend and help in any way I could with the residents. I talk to residents in their rooms, take them round the gardens, bring them down to entertainments and escort them to hospital for appointments. I hear lots of wonderful stories and enjoy listening to them reminisce about their past; their tales mean a lot to me as I was a volunteer in Northern Ireland at the height of the troubles. I became interested in the new dementia unit and was delighted to be asked if I would attend a training day to become a ‘Dementia Champion’. It was a fantastic day with talks and role play and I learned about the needs of the patients but also the relatives. Some felt guilt, some relief and often grief and they needed someone to share these emotions with.

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PROFILE My Royal Alfred

On my return to Belvedere House I asked if I could start up a monthly informal coffee morning as a drop in centre for relatives of those with dementia. This allows people to chat to me and each other without the intrusion of others and it has produced excellent feedback. Being so close to the nursing home makes it easy to get to know people and as my husband has also been a volunteer for two years as a stand-in for the bar, we are both enjoying our retirement in a useful way.


2007

Tony Blair resigns; Gordon Brown (Lab.) appointed Prime Minister

2006

2007

2007

Alan Quinton retires as General Secretary

It is important to record how much the Society owes to the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society, which was instrumental in the inauguration of Royal Alfred 150 years ago together with Trinity House, both of which were represented at the meetings in the Mansion House when the Society was formed. More recently King George’s Fund for Sailors (now operating as Seafarers UK) and Trinity House, together with The Honourable Company of Master Mariners, have been regular grant-giving supporters of Royal Alfred, which, with other non-maritime charities, have made considerable contributions to the Society enabling care costs to be subsidised where those in need cannot afford the care they require. Today the Merchant Navy Welfare Board and the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity have joined those stalwarts mentioned above and capital grants from all these grant-giving maritime charities have made possible the expansion of the care facilities the Society provides for former seafarers and their dependants, especially dementia care in the annexe opened by our Patron, HRH The Princess Royal, in 2011. Our sincere thanks go to all who give us such wonderful support.

Affiliations and Relations with other Maritime Charities The Society has always had excellent relationships with other maritime charities, reasoning that the collaboration and affiliation of like-minded enterprises can only be a force for good that will result in positive outcomes for residents and other beneficiaries. Among those it has worked with over the years are the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society; the British and International Sailors’ Society (now Sailors’ Society) and its Sir Gabriel Wood’s Mariner’s Home in Greenock; the Seamen’s Hospital Society and its Dreadnought medical service in London; the Royal Naval Benevolent Trust; the Worshipful Company of Shipwrights; the Willie Seager Memorial Trust in Cardiff; the Nautilus Welfare Fund’s Mariners Park Care Home in Wallasey; the Company of Watermen and Lightermen of the River Thames; and Age Concern.

Maintaining a strong public profile The Society has long appreciated the importance of a positive profile and, with this in mind, has appointed public relations professionals since the late 1960s. Mr Peter Headridge was a Casework Secretary at Head Office from 1954 to 1974, responsible for overseeing applications received for grant assistance. Following a decision by the Board in 1969, he was seconded from his duties to undertake the work of Public Relations Officer, which entailed him visiting shipping companies and spreading the word about the Society among officers and crew members, with a view to encouraging donations and reaching prospective future residents and tenants. As we have seen in Chapter 7, this role of travelling PR advisor was later fulfilled by Captain Riley on his retirement as House Governor in 1978. An original film documentary about the Royal Alfred was made in 1970, entitled ‘Beyond the Sea’. It was made by Hamer Productions Ltd at a cost of £3,000. This film was created predominantly for marketing purposes and distributed to the likes of P&O, Cunard Line, Furness Withy and the Seafarers’ Education Service. In 1980, the Society allowed the London International Film School to use Belvedere House as a location for a 13-minute film called ‘And Their Souls Remain at Sea’, depicting the lives of ancient mariners. This generated a great deal of media attention, resulting in increased interest in the Royal Alfred from potential residents, staff and volunteers alike. The film sequences at sea, filmed on a Sealink ferry, were arranged by Trustee, Mr Tom Way. We remain very active in communicating news, activities and services to key audiences, as well as maintaining excellent local relations, always working hard to ensure that the Home is a force for good and a focal point for the surrounding community. The goodwill of nearby households and businesses is always front of mind and residents who have their mobility are a visible and much loved fixture of the surrounding area.

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The Royal Alfred has, over the years, launched many successful high profile appeals and welcomed many well-known personalities into its Homes. These have included the following:

Dame Anna Neagle (1904-1986) Stage and film actress and singer whose brother was a resident

Anona Winn MBE (1904-1994) Australian actress and radio personality

Angela Rippon Journalist and broadcaster

Countess Mountbatten of Burma (1901-1960)

Richard Dimbleby CBE (1913-1965) Journalist and broadcaster

John Slater (1916-1975) Actor

Sir Edward Heath (1916-2005) Prime Minister from 1970-1974

Rupert Davies (1916-1976) Actor

Clare Francis Author and former yachtswoman

HRH The Princess Royal Patron of the Society since 2002

Nell McAndrew Glamour model and accomplished amateur athlete

HRH Princess Alexandra of Kent Now known as Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy

Rosemary Nicols Actress

HRH The Duchess of Gloucester (1901-2004) Later known as HRH Princess Alice, The Duchess of Gloucester

Shane Richie TV entertainer and actor Best known for playing the character Alfie Moon in EastEnders

Dame Penelope Keith Actress

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The Society and individuals within it have also won a number of prestigious awards, such as the prestigious Pinder Healthcare Design Award in 2003. In 2014, care home manager Anne Kasey, who had recently celebrated 30 years of service at the Society, took home the ‘care home registered manager’ award at the Nursing and Residential Care awards for her exemplary commitment to the charity and its beneficiaries. In 2015, the home won an award in the Green category of the Toast of Surrey Business Awards for its commitment to environmental sustainability, demonstrated through a range of green initiatives such as solar panels and biomass boilers.

The Society has readily got to grips with the ever more sophisticated and varied communications demands of the digital and mass media age. Its first website was created in 2006, with leading consultancy Acceleris appointed as marketing and PR agent in 2009, and the current website launched in 2011. Acceleris supports online and social media activity such as Facebook and Twitter, press relations, advertising and the production of Annual Reports and other communications materials, including this book!

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2007

Maritime Charities Funding Group publishes ‘Supporting seafarers and their families’ report

Care Quality Commission established under new Health and Social Care Act

2007

2008

Head Office moves to Weston Acres

2008

Part 3

Chapter 13

The present and the future 2013 and 2014

The two years leading up to the 150th anniversary were busy, eventful and largely productive ones for the Royal Alfred. CAPTION:

Left - intrepid cyclists raise money for a piano to boost the Home’s musical activities

CAPTION:

Top right – primary school kids join the Mayor at Royal Alfred open day to celebrate Seafarers Awareness Week

CAPTION:

Below right – Margaret and Anne (centre) recognised for long service

In 2013 A cycle challenge raised more than £4,000 when a big-hearted group of friends pedalled from London to Cologne, in May. The money paid for a unique ocean themed piano incorporating a fish-tank. This allowed the Home to extend its programme of music therapy, which is known to have an enormously positive effect on those living with dementia. Also in May, the Annual General Meeting saw two retiring trustees receive long service awards from HRH The Princess Royal in recognition of a combined 60 years supporting the Royal Alfred. They were Captain Mike Marchant MBE and Captain Anthony David Braithwaite OBE RD RNR, who had served the Society for 23 years and 37 years respectively and helped to steer it through many major challenges and milestones. Children from nearby Woodmansterne Primary School enjoyed a summer afternoon of maritime fun as part of a busy programme of events to mark Seafarers Awareness Week in June. Dressed as pirates, skippers and deckhands, the ‘seafarers’ sailed into the Home to sing sea shanties with residents and the Mayor of Reigate and Banstead, Councillor Dr. Lynne Hack. Further recognition for long service came in August, when care home manager, Anne Kasey

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and executive assistant, Margaret Brazier, who had notched up a 80 years between them, were invited by the media to reminisce about changes they had seen in that time. These included relocation; the arrival of female residents; use of outsourced services; new pension fund arrangements; the end of salaries paid by cheque; and technical advances such as computers and word processors for improved services and efficiencies.

PART 3 The Present and The Future

The Christmas carol concert was geared to helping residents with dementia recover happy memories, with a particularly large crowd of friends and


2010

2009

General Election: David Cameron (Con.) Prime Minister of Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition Government

relatives joining their loved ones at the Home to rekindle the past and make the event itself a memorable one. With this in mind, the self-declared “vocally challenged” Chief Executive Commander Brian Boxall-Hunt even led the staff choir! And the festive season also saw one of the oldest residents, Humphrey Kenneth Burgess, celebrate his 100th birthday with friends and family. The former dentist saw active service during the Second World War, joining the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve at the outbreak as a Surgeon Lieutenant before signing up for the Marine Commandos in India in 1944. Among many adventures in an eventful life were, playing with ‘Gone with the Wind’ star Vivienne Leigh as a child; sharing a sleeping compartment with HRH Prince Philip; and dancing with Wallis Simpson. Sadly Humphrey has since passed away but will be fondly remembered. All news was actively promoted by the Society’s PR consultancy, Acceleris, which led to substantial media coverage. This exposure served to further raise public awareness and positive profile, building on the earlier successes of a reputation management programme that had begun some years earlier and boosting the number of enquiries received by the Home. Further news, website and social media activity supported the drive and gave additional mileage to one of its most important aims - raising awareness of dementia and the need for early diagnosis and effective care of sufferers. News releases were often timed to mark public events e.g. Mother’s Day, when sons and daughters were urged to give ‘friendship not flowers’ to mothers living with dementia, to help evoke memories and slow disease onset. And, in the run up to Dementia Awareness Week in May, the Society joined the national ‘Dementia Friends’ campaign by training volunteer and resident, Ros Ellis, to become a ‘Dementia Champion’ - supporting Alzheimer’s Society’s nationwide initiative to create ‘dementia friendly’ communities. Also during the year, new contracts for outsourced services (human resources, health & safety, clinical

2010

2009

Captain Duncan Glass appointed Chairman, following the retirement of George Miskin

consultancy, accounting and payroll and information technology), were put in place. Negotiated by the Chief Executive to replace those that had been provided by Methodist Homes for the Aged (MHA) until 2012, independent auditors found them to be working well once established. The Board also agreed a move to electronic care planning, a decision that proved advantageous and marked the Royal Alfred as something of a pioneer. There was a drop in income due to an unexpectedly high turnover of residents and unusually low occupancy - factors that were widespread across the country’s care homes. However, the Society remained well supported financially, with grants and donations by like minded maritime and other charities, as well as several legacies. All continued to help the Royal Alfred offer the highest standards of care possible while minimising fees and rents.

CAPTION:

Among Humphrey’s Burgess’ 100th birthday gifts in December 2013 was a telegram from The Queen

A snap Care Quality Commission annual inspection, in December 2013, gave the Home full marks in all areas, while a surprise environmental health inspection and the key health & safety evaluation also reported top ratings. These results bore testimony to the Royal Alfred’s continuing commitment to excellent care and the wellbeing of residents, despite the mounting regulatory burdens being placed on it. While their intentions were laudable, compliance with the laws was often extremely demanding and labour intensive – for both the Royal Alfred and the under-staffed local authority. Nevertheless, a very upbeat mood prevailed at the Home as 2013 drew to a close and everyone connected to it looked forward to the busy upcoming year.

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2011

HRH The Princess Royal opens new Dementia Annexe at Belvedere Home

2010

2011

2010

Battle of Britain 70th Anniversary

CAPTION:

In 2014

CAPTION:

As seen in Chapter 12, in March Anne Kasey was named ‘care home registered manager’ of the year at the Nursing and Residential Care Awards for her contribution to care at the Royal Alfred. During her three decades at the Home thus far, Anne has helped more than 1,250 residents enjoy the best possible experience and support, overseeing the change from ward based care to the dementia annexe.

Left – Anne Kasey named ‘care home registered manager’ of the year Right – Society takes part in research on how music can benefit the wellbeing of those with dementia

This impact is also noted by family and friends when visiting and The University of Roehampton brought its research expertise to the project, empirically assessing and quantifying the impact music sessions have. The investigation included monitoring cortisol and saliva levels to assess the impact on a resident’s mood; high cortisol levels are an indicator of stress, while increased saliva is an indication of happiness. The Royal Alfred has long featured music therapy as part of daily activities at the Home because it can help relieve the feelings of isolation some sufferers experience, as well as reviving forgotten happy memories.

Commander Boxall-Hunt said: “Anne started at The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society as a State Enrolled Nurse, working her way through the various roles until securing the home manger position. Her leadership skills and the example she sets inspires others, which is reflected in the level of care given by all members of staff. Anne is an asset to our team and it is great to see her commitment recognised at a national level.” The Society and its residents took part in a research programme involving the live music charity, Music in Hospitals (MIH) and The University of Roehampton, in April. The study aimed to establish the science behind the therapeutic benefits of live music and in particular, how it can improve the wellbeing of those suffering from dementia. MIH organises interactive concerts for people receiving care or treatment for illnesses or disabilities right across the healthcare spectrum and believes music can improve the quality of life for patients, residents and carers by enhancing the environment in which they live and work.

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And the Society’s dementia education and information programme continued apace in 2014, following news reports that over 800,000 people in the UK were living with the disease. In a number of media features timed to coincide with Dementia Awareness Week, it called for more dementia friendly communities to help support sufferers, their carers and loved ones. These efforts followed the highly positive impact that ‘Dementia Champion’ Ros Ellis, had on fellow residents in the year following her specialist training. This showed Mrs Ellis how to spot the early signs of the disease – a factor that can so often can be vital in getting people the right course of treatment as early as possible.


2012

2012

London Olympic Games

2012

HM The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

In June, Normandy veteran resident, Roy Ticehurst, received a prestigious award to mark the 70th anniversary of the momentous landings that were the turning point of the Second World War and his part in them. He was presented with the very first ‘Lest We Forget Bradford Exchange Award’ - a limited edition D-Day Landing Crown showing an image of troops approaching the Normandy beaches in a landing craft and the engraved coastline where all five landings took place. The 20-year-old Roy was in the thick of the action of history’s largest amphibious assault, laying ramps to help Allied tanks cross the beaches while fighting was going on all around him. Later, he had to clear the bodies of former comrades who had strayed into a minefield. Still lively and very involved, Mr Ticehurst sold poppies for 30 years and was active in sharing his wartime experiences with local school children, so that new generations would know the sacrifices and bravery of those who served. He said: “We celebrate the lives of those who are no longer with us and come together to support those of us who are. I have both good and bad memories from the war and being able to commemorate 70 years since D-Day is a very special thing.” You can read more about Roy on page 82. The year’s Seafarers Awareness Week in June was marked by an invitation to the local community to join in with an afternoon of maritime themed fun, which included a sea shanty sing-along, a tour of the facilities and dementia annexe and the chance to hear residents’ nautical memories. And once again, Woodmansterne Primary School lent sterling support, with children from the choir arriving for the event to add their voices to the sing-along.

And TV star, Shane Richie, joined the mariners and their other visitors young and old to celebrate the occasion. The EastEnders star, singer and ‘local boy’ shared a few drinks with residents, the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Surrey, Mrs Susan Lochner JP DL, and trustees. In a video created to capture the event, he said: “The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society is such a big part of the local community and I really wanted to make time to come and see the residents. Meeting them has been lovely and it’s been great to hear all their stories. The carers’ dedication to residents is absolutely incredible.”

CAPTION:

Second World War veteran Roy Ticehurst receives the ‘Lest We Forget Bradford Exchange Award’ for his part in the D-Day Landings

In October, Belvedere House welcomed a team of volunteers from local financial services provider, Legal & General, for a day of gardening and landscaping in the grounds. Working in partnership with Business in the Community, the 12 employees from the Kingswood Retail Savings business worked hard to revamp the gardens, including the sensory garden, which gives residents living with dementia a calm and relaxing setting. Commander Boxall-Hunt said of the visitors’ herculean efforts: “It is always a pleasure to welcome local companies and businesses to the Society. The team from Legal & General has done a great job in revitalising the sensory garden, which the residents and staff appreciate tremendously. Their enthusiasm, even through the wet and windy weather, couldn’t be denied.” And that sentiment serves as a fitting metaphor for the Society itself. Throughout its history, it has weathered many storms and enjoyed more benevolent climes but has always faced both with enthusiasm and an unquenchable thirst for improvement and new challenges.

Future And at the time of writing, in early 2015, the next challenge is to modernise and refurbish some of the Home’s facilities and accommodation: a new day room/lounge upstairs; an extended and refitted kitchen; upgraded dining facilities; refurbishment of the en-suite bedrooms on the upstairs nursing floor; and upgraded upstairs nursing station, pharmacy, staff locker room and office.

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2014

Trinity House celebrates the 500th Anniversary of its first Royal Charter, having been an important benefactor to Royal Alfred since 1865

2013

Nelson Mandela dies, aged 95

2013

2014

2013

Margaret Thatcher dies, aged 87

The present and the future Part 3

Chapter 14

‘Looking Beyond the Horizon’ By Captain Duncan Glass OBE, MNM, Chairman

Well, there you have it. For the past 150 years, the Society, in all its manifestations, has steadfastly provided shelter, comfort and care for thousands of disabled, sick and worn out seafarers and has looked after their dependants in need. We are immensely proud of what has been achieved. The situation facing merchant seafarers in the first half of the 19th Century was dire, as described so well in our Centenary book ‘The Royal Alfred Story’ and now in our 150th anniversary publication ‘Home from Sea’, and the fate of those who could no longer serve at sea was often destitution and a pauper’s grave. Meetings held at the Mansion House in London in 1857 and 1865, made possible by the committee of the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society, were inspirational in their purpose and attendance. The generosity and vision of those in maritime circles and strong support of the general public ensured that the ‘Royal Alfred Aged Merchant Seaman’s Institution’ was founded. There were over 300,000 British merchant seamen at that time. The first Chairman was Mr Charles Hampden Wigram and 100 years later the then Chairman, Mr David R. Rooper wrote wise words in the Centenary book’s final chapter ‘The Years Ahead’ predicting that “there is every possibility of the Royal Alfred continuing for another 100 years or more”.

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PART 3 The Present and The Future

Fifty years on from the Centenary and we certainly have ‘still more to do’! The changes that have taken place in the maritime sector and nationally since the ‘The Royal Alfred Story’ was written are huge! This is highlighted in the first in-depth study into ‘Supporting Seafarers and their families’, published in 2007 by the Maritime Charities Funding Group (MCFG), which significantly increased knowledge and understanding about older seafarers and their dependants as well as serving seafarers and young people training for the sea and related youth groups. We know we are living longer and that the general demographic towards an ageing population includes former seafarers and their dependants. The report concluded that the number of older seafarers, and the extent of their needs, was unlikely to reduce for at least 20 years, even though the overall numbers of former Naval Service seafarers will fall, while the number of former merchant seafarers and fishermen was expected to rise! Clearly, the demands on maritime charities, with seafarer longevity and accompanying increase in need, is influenced by trends in public policy and people’s expectations, as well as higher standards in care for the elderly and specialist nursing for those living with dementia. We are now more aware that former seafarers suffer from isolation and loneliness, poverty and debt, as well as poor health. This requires provision of long-term housing, integrated with care services for those in need. The welfare maritime charities must strive to meet these challenges.


2014

70th anniversary of the D-Day Landings, the turning point of the Second World War

2014

2014

Marked the 100th anniversary of the onset of the First World War

The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society home has been shaped and expanded with the knowledge of the increasing need of former seafarers and their dependants we are here to serve. The addition of a dedicated dementia annexe in 2011 and the refurbishment and improvement of Belvedere House in this our 150th Anniversary year, places the Society in a strong position to continue providing respite care, sheltered accommodation, nursing and dementia care for many years to come. This is certainly true for the period to 2030 covered in the Society’s Strategic Plan, which is reviewed every five years to ensure we are on track in delivering what is required.

Our country is currently experiencing the inevitable loss of those who served in the first and second World Wars. Their sacrifice and steadfastness has been ever present at our Home in recent years. We have had the honour to care for many wonderful characters who served as seafarers in wartime and give them care and comfort in the twilight of their lives.

CAPTION:

Memorial erected to honour the old merchant seamen who died in the first Belvedere Home, Erith (this monument can still be seen today in Erith Cemetery in the London Borough of Bexley)

While the size of the Royal Navy, Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleet is today a fraction of 1865 or 1965, here in 2015 we are still an island nation, greatly reliant on maritime trade and security. It is essential that British seafarers continue to be recruited and trained. Their lives at sea will be very different from the previous 150 years, but it is clear that there will be an ongoing requirement for maritime charities to provide shelter, support and care to those less fortunate seafarers and their dependants who, due to the nature of seafaring, find themselves in need of help. The Society continuously monitors how best we can meet our objects. We watch with interest developments and changes in social and nursing care and plan to use our resources to improve and expand our services to those we are here to serve. The Maritime Charities Group (MCG - previously MCFG) has published a report on ‘UK Seafarers’ Demographic Profile’ which follows the excellent 2007 report ‘Supporting Seafarers’ mentioned earlier. This was the first time that maritime charities had a good understanding of the numbers and likely needs of the seafaring population in the United Kingdom. The new report states that currently the Royal Navy comprises the largest group of serving seafarers at 33,330, followed by the Merchant Navy at just over 24,000 and the Fishing Fleet at 12,450. Thus the total seafaring population is estimated to be just under 70,000 at this time. Continued over the page...

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2015

2015

Following sterling work by Captain Tony Davis, the Society’s Royal Charter is updated

2015

Conservatives win overall majority in UK General Election, with David Cameron remaining as Prime Minister for a second term

2015

The Maritime Charities Group publishes ‘UK Seafarers Demographic Profile’ report

From the statistics provided in the report the following table has been compiled showing the projected numbers. It’s worth noting that while the overall figures show declines in numbers across the board, the number of former MN and FF seafarers over the age of 85 is expected to increase by more than 275% between now and 2030, while the number of former RN seafarers over the age of 85 has already peaked. FORMER SEAFARERS 2015

2020

2030

2040

2050

Royal Navy

380,000

312,000

232,000

186,000

159,000

Merchant Navy

154,000

141,000

109,000

79,000

64,000

Fishing Fleet

99,000

86,000

63,000

46,000

38,000

Former Seafarers

DEPENDANTS OF SERVING AND FORMER SEAFARERS FROM 2015 TO 2050 2015

2020

2030

2040

2050

Royal Navy

405,000

388,000

263,000

220,000

196,000

Merchant Navy

176,000

157,000

122,000

95,000

84,000

Fishing Fleet

106,000

91,000

71,000

56,000

49,000

2015

2020

2030

2040

2050

Royal Navy

55,170

43,640

24,000

18,670

13,040

Merchant Navy

7,080

9,430

15,500

13,890

8,130

Fishing Fleet

4,550

6,050

9,880

8,300

4,610

Dependants

FORMER SEAFARERS OVER THE AGE OF 85 Former Seafarers 85+

The study concludes by stating that there will be a continuing need for charitable help and support, particularly among the oldest former Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleet seafarers for many years to come. The report notes the apparently low membership of occupational pension schemes among some groups of seafarers. Thus, within the wider context of continuing welfare reform and austerity measures affecting health and social care it may mean that although the overall numbers may decline, the level of need may actually increase. The Society will now update its Strategic Plan using this latest information on the numbers of seafarers, serving and retired and their dependants in future years. We sincerely hope to identify improved ways to meet our charitable objects: “to provide, carry on and maintain Homes or Housing for the care of aged, infirm or disabled seafarers, their widows or dependants and to act as a trustee or almoner for granting relief to seafarers or to the widows or dependants of any such seafarers”.

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In conclusion we offer our sincere and heartfelt thanks to those who support us in all we do. Our Patron, HRH The Princess Royal, and our President, The Earl of Inchcape, keep abreast of the Society’s activities and attend meetings and events when appropriate. The generous support we receive from the grant-giving maritime charities, and other charities, is essential and greatly appreciated. Our trustees, volunteers and friends, together with our wonderful staff make Weston Acres in general and Belvedere House in particular, such a very special place. Finally we offer our thanks and appreciation to our residents and their families, who we take such pride in serving, in recognition of the working lives afloat that many of them have undergone and who now are ‘Home from Sea’.


INDEX 0-10

Brazier, Margaret | 8, 41, 53, 94

17th July 1857 - the date of the organisation’s founding meeting | 11-13

British Prime Ministers • Tony Blair | 76, 91 • Brown, Gordon | 91 • Cameron, David | 95, 100 • Callaghan, James | 50 • Churchill, Winston | 23 • Heath, Sir Edward | 43, 92 • Macmillan, Harold | 26, 36 • Major, John | 69 • Thatcher, Margaret | 58, 69, 98 • Wilson, Harold | 47

5th May 1865 - the Society’s official birthday | 11, 16, 60

A

Activities, recreational or household | 20, 24, 27, 44-45, 47, 49, 58, 61, 63-64, 67-69, 78, 89-90, 94-96 Admiral Herbert Ward or Wing | 24-25 Alexandra, Princess, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy formerly styled as: Princess Alexandra of Kent | 23, 34, 92 Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, formerly styled as: the Duke of Edinburgh | 7, 12, 18, 21, 88 Alice, Princess, The Duchess of Gloucester | 24-25, 68, 92 Allan, John, also referred to as ‘the Author’ | 8, 11, 18, 35, 53 Anne, Princess, The Princess Royal | 6-8, 43-44, 79, 88, 91-92, 94, 96, 100 Annual National Service for Seafarers, the | 62, 69 Awards: • Healthcare Design Awards, the Pinders’ | 43, 93 • Lest We Forget Bradford Exchange Award (Roy Ticehurst) | 82, 97 • Nursing and Residential Care Awards | 93, 96 • Toast of Surrey Business Awards, the | 93

B

Belvedere House in Erith, Kent (1867-1959), also referred to as: • The Belvedere Mansion • The Belvedere Home at Erith | 10-21, 23-24, 27, 35, 37, 39, 42, 47, 56, 59, 61-63, 68-69, 72, 99 on Holly Lane, Banstead (1978-2001), also referred to as: • The former Zachary Merton Convalescent Home; • The Royal Alfred Home; and/or • The Holly Lane Home | 27, 38-43, 47, 49, 53, 56, 59, 65, 77, 80, 82, 91 on the Weston Acres estate, Banstead (2001- ), also referred to as: The Belvedere Home | 41-47, 62-65, 76-81, 89-90, 94-97, 99-100 Belvedere Institution, The | 7, 11, 16, 47, 57-58 Bird, Gillian | 53-55 Board or Committee, The (of Management, of Trustees, etc) | 7-8, 22-23, 25-29, 32, 42-45, 49-51, 56-57, 59, 61, 68, 70, 74-78, 91 Bombing (of Society premises) | 21, 23, 35 Boxall-Hunt, Commander Brian | 8, 41, 51, 54, 57, 89, 95-96 Braithwaite, Tony | 8, 30, 49, 52, 94

• Seafarers UK | 19-20, 27, 51, 53, 70, 79, 89, 91 • Seamen’s Hospital Society or Seamen’s Hospital, the | 11, 15, 21, 25, 34, 39-40, 51, 72, 79, 91 • Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society, the | 11-16, 34-35, 59, 61, 70, 74, 91, 98 • Trinity House | 18, 31, 79, 91, 98 • Worshipful Company of Shipwrights, The | 91 Chatham Chest | 10, 13, 16 Chelsea Hospital or Chelsea Pensioners | 7, 11, 17, 24, 68, 89

Burgess, Humphrey | 71, 95

C

Christmas (at Royal Alfred) | 31-32, 53, 68, 78, 81, 94

Care Quality Commission | 44, 78, 94-95 Care, types of • Convalescent | 42, 75 • Dementia | 7, 19, 44-45, 51, 57, 62-65, 67, 76, 79, 90-91, 94-96, 98-99 • Respite | 7, 43-44, 51, 75, 99

Church, The/Christian aid/faith | 11, 17, 47-48, 61 Collins, Pat | 31, 53-55, 60, 62, 77, 83, 84 Cope, Albert | 52

Cartoons (about the Society) | 62, 69

Couples (living at Royal Alfred) | 50, 64-65, 82-83, 90

Castle, The Revd Vincent | 37 Celebrity supporters (excluding members of the Royal Family) • Davies, Rupert | 92 • Dimbleby, Richard | 92 • Francis, Clare | 92 • Keith, Dame Penelope | 43, 92 • McAndrew, Nell | 92 • Neagle, Dame Anna | 92 • Nichols, Rosemary | 92 • Richie, Shane | 71, 92, 97 • Rippon, Angela | 92 • Slater, John | 92 • Winn, Anona | 92 Centenary (of the Society) | 7-8, 20, 24-25, 28, 38, 56, 59, 66, 68, 98 Changes or progression in the provision of or demand for the Royal Alfred’s care | 11, 19, 21-22, 24-25, 27, 32, 40-45, 47, 51-53, 57-62, 64-65, 69-70, 72-81, 88, 91, 94-95, 98-100

Cunard Line | 47, 83, 91

D

D-Day Landings, the | 82-83, 85, 97, 99 Denholm, Sir Ian | 50, 72 Donations and/or fundraising | 16, 43, 45, 94 Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Duchess of Edinburgh, the formerly styled as: Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna of Russia | 18, 21, 88

E

Earl of Inchcape, The | 50, 72, 100 East India Company | 60 Eastbourne Home, also referred to as: • Home for Ladies; • Reginald Grout Home for Ladies; • Royal Alfred House; and/or • The Royal Alfred Home, Eastbourne | 7, 24-25, 28-32, 33, 42, 44, 49-50, 53, 57, 60, 62, 68, 74, 76-78, 83-85, 89

Charitable objects or objectives (the Society’s) | 7, 11, 18, 28, 58, 100 Charity Commission | 39, 73 Charity partners • Age Concern | 91 • Alzheimer’s Society | 65, 70, 95 • British Red Cross | 21 • Company of Watermen and Lightermen of the River Thames, the | 8-9, 11 • Honourable Company of Master Mariners, The | 53, 91 • King George’s Fund for Sailors | 19-21, 40, 48, 51, 53, 91 formerly The Sailor’s Fund | 20 • ’Lest We Forget’ Association, The | 69 • Maritime Charities Group/Maritime Charities Funding Group, the | 8,79,94,98-100 • Merchant Navy Welfare Board | 21, 34, 36, 51, 53, 79, 91 • Mission to Seamen/Mission to Seafarers | 37, 61 • Nautilus International | 51, 79 • Not Forgotten Association, The | 69 • Royal British Legion, The (also includes mention of poppies) | 26-27, 53, 69, 82, 97 • Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity, The | 45, 79, 91 • Sailors’ Society | 70, 91

Davis, Tony | 100

Edward VIII, King | 88 Egyptian Room or/and Mansion House, London | 4, 11-12, 14, 16, 91, 98 Eligibility (for Royal Alfred care) | 7, 11, 16-17, 20, 47, 54, 58-61, 79, 89, 98 Elizabeth I, Queen | 10 Elizabeth II, The Queen | 4, 26, 28, 37, 52, 56, 78-79, 88, 97 Ellis, Ros | 65, 90, 95-96

F

Facilities for accommodation, care and/ or nursing | 17, 25, 30, 37, 39-41, 44, 61-65, 72-80, 97 Financial assistance for seafarers (by Royal Alfred or generally) e.g. special funds set up, out pensions, out pensioners, pensions or beneficiary grants | 11, 15-17, 19, 34, 36, 58-59, 61, 74, 94, 100 Financial problems (for Royal Alfred) | 14, 21, 26-27, 30, 36-37, 44, 47, 51

Home from Sea 150 Years of The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society

101


INDEX First World War, the | 18-20, 28, 62, 72, 82, 84-85, 99

G

M

Founding meeting | 4, 7, 11-12

McMillan, A. Stewart | 8, 20, 56, 60

Second World War, the | 21-22, 24, 33, 35-36, 62, 68, 72, 79, 82-87, 95-96, 99

Francis, Lieutenant | 54-55, 64

Mercantile Marine Fund | 13, 16

Shaw, Sir Brian | 52

Friday, Daphne | 37, 54-55

Merchant Marine Protection Fund, the | 12, 15

Gardens and/or grounds | 30-31, 62, 64-65, 80, 90, 97

Merchant Navy Medal recipients | 32, 41, 53, 98

Sheltered housing/flats | 34-37, 42, 44, 62, 64, 77, 85, 87, 90, 99

George, Prince, Duke of Kent | 20 Gibb, Commodore, Ian | 8 Glass, Captain Duncan | 8, 33, 45, 51, 95, 98-100

Grout, Doris | 29

Smith, Ferguson | 86 Societal attitudes towards seafarers | 7, 10-16, 18-19, 24, 46, 58, 60-61, 85, 91, 98-100

Milling, Geoffrey, or Milling Wing, the | 22-23, 25, 51, 72, 74-75, 77

George VIII, King | 20

Greenwich Hospital | 7, 10-16, 79

Seafarers Awareness Week | 62, 89, 94, 97

Methodist Homes for the Aged Care Group (MHA) | 43-45, 78-79, 88, 95

George VII, King | 18

N

Somerville, William | 46

Miskin, George | 3, 51, 53, 56, 70, 95

Sowamber, Andy | 39, 43, 53-55, 81, 88

Mitchell, Wendy | 54-55

Spencer, Dierdre | 54-55, 78

Moore, John | 41, 49, 51, 54-55, 70, 81

Staff accommodation | 25, 37

Morris, Charles ‘Fred’ | 82, 84-85

Stockton, Pat | 32, 54-55

Moss, Ethel | 83

submarine service | 62, 87

Mountbatten, Edwina, The Countess Mountbatten of Burma | 23, 92

Talbot, Geoffrey | 87

Nautical objects and/or artefacts (in the homes) | 45, 63, 68, 94

T

Technology | 41, 45, 70, 80, 93, 94, 95 The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society name | 44, 53

Grout, Reginald | 25, 28-29, 50-51

New Belvedere Home in Erith, Kent, the | 21, 22-27, 28-29, 32, 38, 42, 53, 61, 63, 72

Gundry, David | 8, 33, 68

New Year’s Day, 1867 | 11, 17, 60

The Times | 12-13, 15

On-site bar, alcohol or/and pubs | 21, 31, 40, 47, 61, 64, 68, 81, 90

The workhouse | 7, 10, 15, 58

Hamilton, Jeannine | 54-55, 64 Hawkins, Sir John | 11 Head Office | 34-37, 41, 43-44, 54, 57, 78, 91, 94

O P

Henry, Edith | 53-54, 77 Historic Dockyard, Chatham | 10 Hospital for ‘Worn-out and Disabled Merchant Seamen’, an | 7, 11-13, 18 House rules | 17, 19, 46-50 Housing Association (Royal Alfred/Weston Acres) | 34-37, 42, 73

Q R

Infirm homes and/or infirm care | 19-21, 24-25, 40, 42, 58-59, 72

K

Kasey, Anne | 40, 53, 59, 80-81, 88, 93, 94, 96

L

Lafferty, D. J. ‘Don’ | 26, 29, 34, 36, 38-39, 41, 51, 56

Trafalgar Hotel/Tavern | 19-20

Preliminary Hospital Prospectus, 1857 | 10,12,58 Presidents of the Society | 8, 38, 50, 52, 56, 72, 100

Training for staff or volunteers | 65, 75, 77, 81, 89-90, 95-96

Public relations, publicity, marketing and/or advertising | 53, 56, 70-71, 82-84, 86, 89, 91-93, 95

Tribe, Thomas | 47, 51

Quinton, Alan | 44, 51, 70, 74, 91 Riley, Captain R. J. F. ‘Dick’ | 14, 24-26, 53-55, 91 Rooper, David | 28, 36-38, 51-52, 56, 70, 98

Royal Alfred Sailors’ Home in Bombay, The | 28-29 Royal Charter | 18, 24, 44, 54, 58-61, 73

Lafferty, Joan | 29

Royal Marines | 37, 54, 62

Legacies | 16, 25

Royal Naval Benevolent Trust, The | 91

Legislation, maritime, care or other | 11-16, 18, 24, 37-42, 72-73, 88-89, 94, 98-100

Royal Patron/Patronage | 6-8, 18, 20, 43, 79, 88

Lighthouses | 13, 16, 31, 63

Royal Watermen’s Asylum, the | 11

Lord Mayor of London | 12, 14

Rt. Hon. Viscount Runciman of Doxford OBE, AFC | 50, 56

Lucas, Bernard or Lucas Home, The | 20-21, 72

Ticehurst, Roy | 82, 97

Trips, outings and/or holidays | 27, 29, 32, 48-49, 62, 69, 89

U

Uniform (for residents) | 17, 47

V

Vickers | 19-20

S

safe haven | 46, 51, 60 Sailors’ Home, Sydney | 18

Home from Sea 150 Years of The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society

Victoria, Queen | 7, 13, 18 Viscount of Cobham, The | 50

Royal Alfred Merchant Seamen’s Society, The | 18, 24

Kett, Captain William Hedley | 87

Lowle, Captain Malcolm | 8, 31, 84-85

‘The Royal Alfred Story’ | 7-8, 20, 39, 56, 60, 98

Parsons, Florence | 82

Royal Alfred Aged Merchant Seamen’s Institution, The | 11, 12, 18, 98

Institute of Public Care (IPC) | 78-79

102

Mary II, Queen | 11 Masts/flagpoles | 20, 24, 26-27, 31, 63

George VI, King | 18, 20, 88

I

Seafarer characteristics | 7, 10-13, 15, 17, 46, 48, 57, 60-63, 70, 80-82

Food, catering and/or nutrition | 17, 19, 31, 47-48, 61, 66-67

George V, King | 18, 20, 24, 88 formerly styled: • The Prince of Wales | 88 • Duke of York, briefly The Duke of Cornwall and York | 88

H

Marchant, Captain Mike | 94

Voluntary agents | 11 Volunteers | 89-90, 97, 100

W

Walsh, Joyce ‘Betty’ | 85 Way, Tom | 52, 91 West, John | 38 Westminster Health Care Ltd | 42-43 Weston Acres House, Weston Acres Estate, Banstead | 25, 29, 32, 34-37, 40, 42-44, 48, 52, 57, 62, 65, 77-78, 82-83, 87, 94-97, 100 Wives, widows and dependants of seafarers | 28-29, 50, 53, 58-59, 80-82, 84-85, 88, 94, 98-99 Wrens and female seafarers | 50, 58-59, 62, 80-83, 85, 87, 94, 100


The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society Weston Acres Woodmansterne Lane Banstead Surrey SM7 3HB T 01737 353763 W www.royalalfredseafarers.com

Royal Alfred Seafarers

@RASeafarers

royalalfredseafarerssociety

© The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society This book has been produced by Acceleris, in partnership with The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society, Rebus Design and Harrogate Printing.

Home From Sea  

A book charting the 150-year history of The Royal Alfred Seafarers' Society, a maritime charity which has cared for and supported former sea...

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