Award-winning care home, Belvedere House of the Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society is marking the most romantic time of the year by celebrating over 400 years of happy marriage among its residents and staff.
The specialist maritime care home in Banstead, Surrey, has 12 couples among its residents and staff and offers specialist facilities to allow married residents to live together whilst receiving the best possible care.
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, residents and staff have shared their recipe for a happy-ever-after marriage for younger couples. They recommend being tolerant, understanding and grateful as key ingredients for a happy marriage as well as ‘doing what the wife says’.
Residents Mr and Mrs Hatfield have been married for 70 years after meeting in 1947 at a Valentine’s Day dance at their local golf club in Somerset. Mr Hatfield proposed later that year and they married shortly after, celebrating with a two week honeymoon in Bournemouth.
Mrs Hatfield puts her happy marriage down to not taking things to heart. She could understand and empathise with her husband’s career as a Royal Navy officer because she served in the Navy herself for almost three years. She added: “I love my husband’s resilience and ability to adapt quickly to any situation the most. Of course we’ve had our challenges, but we always remain positive and weigh the gravity of the situation before we jump to conclusions or say things we might regret. I am extremely grateful to have found a care home where both my husband and I can live under the same roof and continue to enjoy each other’s company.”
Residents Mr and Mrs Robinson were married for 74 years after becoming friends as children in their home town of Clacton-on-Sea. During the war, in 1942, the pair married in the village church of Farleigh, Surrey and had a two-day honeymoon before Mr Robinson had to return to sea. He served the country bravely in the Royal Navy for almost 30 years, including taking part in the Battle of the Atlantic.
Mrs Robinson said: “Long-distance relationships are challenging, but we ensured our communication remained strong as we were sending each other telegrams two to three times a week. The main goal of a lifelong commitment is supporting each other so it is important to show tolerance and understanding for your partner’s circumstances. I used to live each day for when my husband would return home, which kept me going.”
The couple, who have two sons, moved in to the Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society where they enjoyed the remaining six months of their long and happy marriage together until Mr Robinson passed away recently.
Mrs Hatfield and Mrs Robinson are just two of the home’s 68 residents, who receive care from more than 100 members of staff at the home, some of whom are also married.
Chief Executive Commander Brian Boxall-Hunt said: “At the Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society we pride ourselves on caring for former seafarers,, who have given so much to our island nation. It is important that our residents have the opportunity to live together at a time in their lives when they need the love and support of their partners the most. I am glad our care home continues to give our residents the opportunity to share accommodation and care after building a lifetime of memories and experiences.”
The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society’s purpose-built nursing care home is situated within 14 acres of Surrey countryside, offering a full range of on-site services, including nursing and specialised dementia care. With its idyllic setting and award-winning care, it’s easy to see why the home is a ‘safe haven’ for retired seafarers in sickness and old age.