From humble beginnings in Kingswood Road, Gillingham, The Abbeyfield Kent Society has grown to become the biggest independent Abbeyfield in the world. On 10th October, it celebrated its 50th anniversary with a Canterbury Cathedral service and a performance by the prestigious Invictus Games choir.
The Abbeyfield Kent Society, a registered charity providing care and housing to older people across the south east, celebrated at the service with guests such as Lord Lieutenant and Lady De L’Isle, the High Sheriff of Kent George Jessel and Sergeant Johnson Beharry VC COG. Sergeant Johnson Beharry is a British Army soldier who was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest military decoration for valour in the British and Commonwealth armed forces.
The Society was also extremely honored to be joined by the prestigious Invictus Games Choir, who performed three moving songs during the service. The Invictus Games Choir has now grown to over 40 members – all of whom have one thing in common, they are all rebuilding their lives after suffering life-changing injuries or illness during or as a result of their service in the Armed Forces.
In the spring of 2018 Abbeyfield Kent will have completed its brand new extra care development, Lawson House. The scheme will consist of 74 one and two bedroom apartments, available on an affordable rent basis, 20 of the apartments will be specifically for veterans.
Leon Steer, Chief Executive at The Abbeyfield Kent Society commented: “We are very proud of the Society’s accomplishments over the years and believe it is a huge achievement that we have come so far since 1967 and are looking to the future in a time which is of considerable uncertainty for the entire sector and the need is immense.
“We feel truly blessed that we have received so much support not only for this celebratory event but for our new development, Lawson House. Seeing that support during our service was a truly humbling experience.”
Kent got its first Abbeyfield home in 1967, when Rev Tom Rogers noticed that older people in the area were lonely and in need of care. From that first small house in Kingswood Road, the Society continued to grow over the years and in 1992, Rogers House opened in Gillingham, it was the first residential care home in the county to provide 24-hour care and compassion.