Celebrating 35 years of care, friendship and community

2019 is our 35th birthday year, and we have been marking the milestone with a series of celebrations and special fundraising challenges. In this month’s blog, Brendoncare’s Chief Executive, Carole Sawyers looks back over our birthday year so far.

We launched our 35th birthday celebrations in February this year, reflecting on how far the organisation has come in the last three and a half decades. Inspired by the wonderful work of Mrs Phoebe Bacon in Winchester, Brendoncare was founded in 1984 by Sir Ronald Gibson, a GP who believed that older people deserved to be treated with dignity and respect, and that they should never have to move to receive the care they may need despite deteriorating health or mobility.

35 years of care in Brendoncare homes

This commitment to providing a wide range of care services, tailored to the needs of the individual, remains one of our guiding principles even today. Our care homes provide a range of different care models, including specialist dementia care, so that residents can continue to live in the setting they are familiar with, even as their needs change. Our Care for Life promise guarantees that a Brendoncare home really is a home for life, even if a resident’s financial situation changes.

Our homes have been celebrating our 35th birthday in different ways throughout the year. At Brendoncare Alton, Britain’s oldest man Bob Weighton recorded a special birthday video message for us, and the home’s 35th Birthday Summer Fete was a huge success, with live music, stalls, face painting, a raffle and a barbecue. Other homes combined birthday celebrations into their plans for National Care Home Open Day, with special afternoon teas and a variety of entertainment and activities. Brendoncare Woodhayes in Exeter combined a cream tea buffet with a variety of arts and craft activities.

Birthday celebrations in Brendoncare Clubs

In 2006, The Brendoncare Foundation merged with Club Hampshire, a charity tackling social isolation among older people by running regular friendship clubs. From those early days, Brendoncare Clubs has grown to a network of more than 90 clubs across Hampshire and Dorset, offering diverse activities and opportunities for more than 1400 older people to come together and enjoy the company of others in similar situations to their own. Our Gosport Hub hosts no fewer than 18 different clubs throughout the week, while our Community Hub at Otterbourne Hill provides a range of clubs open to the community as well as a dementia friendly environment for people living locally.

Cake is always popular in our clubs, and our 35th birthday year has given plenty of opportunities for baking and tasting. The celebrations began at Penny’s Friendship Club in Ferndown, with a fantastic birthday cake shared among members and volunteers.

35th birthday fundraising

In our clubs and care homes, our 35th anniversary year has given us a great incentive to raise money to ensure we can continue to have a positive impact on later life for older people across the South of England. It has been wonderful to see so many people involved in such a variety of fundraising activities, some of which are listed here:

- Our 35th birthday raffle was greeted with great enthusiasm across the whole organisation, with 35 wonderful prizes on offer, and £5,000 raised through ticket sales.
- Students from the Yehudi Menuhin School put on a fantastic concert, performing works by Bach, Borodin and Mozart among others.
- Abu Sheriff, chef at Brendoncare Ronald Gibson House, took on the Prudential Ride London challenge, cycling 100 miles.
- Trish Harris, home manager at Brendoncare Chiltern View, ran 14 half-marathons in 14 days.
- Lasantha and Anastasia from Central Office’s Finance team took part in the British 10K run in London.
- A team of 6 staff and managers rose admirably to the challenge from one of our suppliers to take part in Tough Mudder, a 5km run filled with muddy obstacles.
- Three brave walkers joined my husband Craig and myself for a 35km walk from Brendoncare Alton to Central Office in Winchester on one of the hottest days of the year.
- Our Birthday Bash boat party takes place on board Blue Funnel’s Ocean Scene on 4th October, and we look forward to hearing more about that after the event.

Here’s to the next 35 years

Our birthday year has enabled us to celebrate 35 years of care, community, friendship and kindness. We can look back at our achievements with a great deal of pride, knowing that we have helped to make later life a more positive experience for the older people living in our care homes, and that we have helped to provide opportunities for friendship and company to the club members who see their weekly club meetings as a real highlight.

We now support more than 1,400 people in our friendship clubs; more than 400 people in full time care in our homes; and 140 in our housing with care locations. We are continuing to develop innovative solutions for people living with dementia, notably at Brendoncare Otterbourne Hill where couples can choose to remain together with the vital support they need always close by. We continue to tackle loneliness in communities across Hampshire and Dorset, with new clubs and activities developing all the time. We’re also developing new ways of bringing our services closer together, providing community resources through our care homes, such as the new Dementia Café at Brendoncare Alton and the Community Hub at Otterbourne Hill.

Our first 35 years have seen us adapt, change and grow to meet the changing needs of older people. Our 600 staff and 500 volunteers continue to go the extra mile every day to make a difference to the lives of our residents and club members. The next 35 years will no doubt see just as many new challenges for us to meet, and I look forward to seeing Brendoncare take every opportunity to make later life ‘a better life’.

Celebrating 35 years of care, friendship and community, Chief Executive

About the author:

Carole Sawyers

Chief Executive

Carole Sawyers joined Brendoncare in June 2014 as Chief Executive. Her previous role was Chief Executive at The Fremantle Trust where she had worked since 1992. Carole has a professional background as a Chartered Accountant and previously worked as a senior manager for Ernst and Young, the international firm of chartered accountants.

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