Our History

Brendoncare was formed in 1984 by Winchester GP, Sir Ronald Gibson, a champion of the rights of older people. Convinced they were often let down by the institutions that looked after them, he pioneered the idea of tailoring the full range of care to fit the changing needs of individuals - always offering care with discretion and dignity. Today, these principles guide all our work.

The Brendoncare Foundation grew out of the wisdom of Sir Ronald Gibson, a former Chairman of the British Medical Association, and the compassion of a generous benefactor, Mrs Phoebe Bacon. In the 1970s she took ageing friends to live with her in her home in Winchester so that they could continue to enjoy companionship and look after each other. As time went by and some of the friends needed more help, Mrs Bacon’s niece, Sue Everitt, and Sir Ronald Gibson put their energies into having a nursing wing built so that the residents would not have to move when nursing care became necessary. The house was called Brendon, named after the Brendon Hills in Somerset, and thus Brendoncare was born.

Brendon was one of the first dual registered homes, providing both residential and nursing care under one roof. In contrast with the strict regime of earlier homes, Brendon offered discreet, comfortable and flexible care, with a minimum of rules, and choice offered wherever feasible. There were no shared rooms and residents were encouraged to bring their own furniture.

Sir Ronald’s vision was that the ‘Brendon’ concept should be replicated far and wide. In 1984, the Brendoncare Foundation was incorporated on St Valentine’s Day at the Apothecaries’ Hall in London. At the press conference Sir Ronald said that “The Care of the Elderly in this Country is a Scandal” engendering wide publicity, and later that year he wrote a paper “Total Care of the Elderly - A National Design” based on Brendon.

Sir Ronald approached Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother who generously accepted the role of Patron. Sir Ronald became President, Harvey White became Chairman and soon afterwards Lord Coggan, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, took up the role of Visitor.

In 1985 Woodhayes, a 14-bed residential home in Exeter, was offered to the Foundation as a gift by the Soroptomists, with five additional beds added soon after. The following year, The Old Parsonage in Otterbourne was acquired with 11 residents. And at Froxfield, near Hungerford, land was donated by the Seton-Wills family for the building of a new 40-bed home and substantial funds raised by the local community. To secure the balance of the funds, Brendoncare took out a mortgage, a most unusual move for a charity. Froxfield was opened in 1987 by the Duchess of Gloucester.

The following year in Otterbourne, Old Parsonage Court was completed with 22 flats and bungalows allowing residents to live in their own property across the lawn from the main home. Known as ‘the Courtiers’ they enjoyed access to the home’s facilities. In 1989, a nursing wing was completed adding a further 23 beds. The same year, a nursing wing was completed at Woodhayes with a further seven beds.

In October 1988, Sue Everitt retired having established three homes and started building partnerships with the NHS in Tooting and Aylesbury. Anne Rich was appointed Chief Executive. Two years later, Brendoncare took over Rame House at Tooting, a 28-bed geriatric ward of St George’s Hospital and ran it for six months under an NHS contract. In 1991 it was replaced by a purpose-built 40-bed home, named after Ronald Gibson who had recently died, a lasting memorial to his vision. Lord Whitelaw took over as President, and Ronald Gibson House was officially opened by HM the Queen Mother.

Chiltern View, a 30-bed single storey nursing home offering specialist care for cognitively impaired residents, was built for Brendoncare in 1991 to replace long-stay beds at St John’s Psychiatric Hospital in Stone near Aylesbury. The following year, in 1992, a new Chief Executive, Ron Staker, took over the helm.

The next big step for Brendoncare in the mid 1990s was to move into a campus-based model of care, which has since proved to be very successful. The development of Brendoncare Alton, its first ever ‘Total Care’ centre, in 1996 achieved the confluence of three important strands. Giving people the opportunity to live in their own apartment offered independence. By locating the apartments on the campus of a nursing home the philosophy of never having to move to receive care was retained. Thirdly, Alton achieved a financial model that ring fenced assets (namely the apartment itself) which otherwise would have disqualified the individual from claiming state support for care under the means test. Alton comprised 75 nursing beds, a daycare centre, 30 beds for cognitively impaired residents and 46 close care apartments.

Lord Wakeham became Brendoncare’s President in April 1998, taking over from Lord Whitelaw.
Following the sad death of The Queen Mother in March 2002, the Royal household graciously nominated HRH The Countess of Wessex to be the new Patron and she has since taken a keen personal interest in all Brendoncare’s activities.

Over the next two years Stildon, an 18-bed residential home which had been gifted to Brendoncare, was redeveloped. The old building was replaced with a purpose-built home offering 32 nursing beds, 11 close care apartments and a small daycare centre.

Jeremy Delmar-Morgan became Brendoncare’s Chairman in 2003, taking over from Harvey White who served in the role for a magnificent 18 years. Later that year, HRH The Countess of Wessex fulfilled her first engagement as Patron and opened the new cognitively impaired wing and daycare centre at Ronald Gibson House in London. The following year, the Countess visited Woodhayes in Exeter with His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex, and also officially opened the new Stildon care centre in East Grinstead.

A natural progression of the Alton concept and the next landmark in Brendoncare’s history was the development in 2005 of Brendoncare Knightwood in Chandlers Ford and its ‘Total Care Living’ model which is now revolutionising the care of older people. The concept provides nursing home levels of care to people living independently in their own home with any nursing, personal and social care services and support delivered to them 24/7. It was officially opened by the Countess in February 2007.

In 2007 Club Hampshire, a charity tackling social isolation among older people by running regular friendship clubs, merged into Brendoncare to create Brendoncare Clubs. The division has over 70 clubs for older people in the south, which are run with considerable support from volunteers.
The Bishop of Winchester, the Right Reverend Michael Scott-Joynt, became Brendoncare’s Visitor in 2008 filling a role that had been vacant since the death of Lord Coggan in 2000.

The number of Brendoncare centres rose to 10 in 2008 through two mergers; first with Brendon Nursing Trust, a family reunited, and later with Meadway, another Pheobe Bacon home also in Winchester.

Please click here to download a copy of Brendoncare’s Silver Anniversary brochure which details the history and includes many photographs.