40 Faces of Brendoncare – Sir Ronald Gibson

Written by: Alison Reijman Published: February 14, 2024

 

Sir Ronald Gibson launched The Brendoncare Foundation in 1984, becoming both its Chair then President.

Born on 28th November 1909 in Southampton, Sir Ronald graduated from St John’s College, Cambridge. In 1937, he qualified as a doctor at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London.

Sir Ronald’s entry into general practice was interrupted by World War 2. From 1940 to 1945, Sir Ronald served in the RAMC (Royal Army Medical Corps) in Kenya and Somaliland, rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.

In 1945, Sir Ronald returned to general practice in Winchester. There, he developed an interest in medical politics. As a result, he served as Honorary Secretary  then chaired the BMA’s (British Medical Association) Winchester Division. He was then Secretary and Chair of the Wessex Branch.

In 1963, Sir Ronald became Chair of the BMA’s Representative Body. Then from 1966 to 1971, he chaired the BMA Council.

While working as a GP in Winchester, Sir Ronald became involved in the Brendon care home concept. He offered his support to Mrs Phoebe Bacon and her niece, Mrs Sue Everitt, helping them to build a nursing wing at Brendon. This would enable residents needing nursing care to move there instead of being transferred elsewhere.

To achieve this, they set up the Brendon Nursing Trust to manage the new wing, which was completed in 1974.  Brendon became one of the first dual registered homes, providing residential and nursing care under one roof.

This innovative Brendon concept for care became central to Sir Ronald’s vision for developing care on a national, even international level. To achieve this, the Brendoncare Foundation was incorporated on 14th February 1984 at the Apothecaries’ Hall in London.

His work for the Foundation included raising £1 million for its projects.

Scandal

On 24th September 1984, Sir Ronald told a Press conference at the Apothecaries’ Hall that “the care of the elderly in Britain is a scandal”, his remarks generating widespread publicity home and abroad.

This was followed by a soirée attended by influential people in the fields of medicine, fundraising and care of the elderly. Sir Ronald also invited HM The Queen Mother to become the Foundation’s first Patron.

Later that year, he wrote a paper Total Care of the Elderly- A National Design based on the Brendon model, in which he expanded his vision.

This became the blueprint for Brendoncare’s commitment to older people – to enable them to maintain their independence, but receiving unobtrusive care whenever they needed it.

Sir Ronald then gave up chairing the Foundation to concentrate on Parliamentary lobbying and publicity. In recognition of his incredible achievements, the Foundation’s Executive Board appointed him its President.

Using Brendon as the model, more care homes were acquired and opened, including Froxfield, which Brendoncare still operates.

Sir Ronald was knighted for his public service which extended beyond general practice and the care of older people. He died on 27th May 1989 aged 79. His memorial service was held at Winchester Cathedral on 16th September that year.

His original vision and concept still informs and inspires Brendoncare’s work, enabling older people to continue living with kindness, respect, and dignity.

 

  • Photograph courtesy of the Hampshire Chronicle. It shows Brendon, later Park Road, with the then Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Rev John Taylor. Sir Ronald Gibson is pictured on the right with Mrs Phoebe Bacon third from right.