HRH The Duke of Kent KG, who is also the Grand Master of the Freemasons’ United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), visited the Royal Hospital Chelsea to open a newly refurbished berth funded by a £50,000 donation from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity made in 2009.
This grant was approved by The Freemasons' Grand Charity in commemoration of the fortieth anniversary of the installation of HRH The Duke of Kent KG as Grand Master of United Grand Lodge of England. The Duke of Kent KG is also the Grand President of The Freemasons’ Grand Charity.
The Duke of Kent opened the berth prior to taking part in the Chelsea Pensioners’ 322nd annual Founder’s Day Parade on 5 June (which commemorates the founding of the Hospital by King Charles II in 1682) as Reviewing Officer.
He said in his speech, “I was most interested to learn of the enormous efforts made to establish the Royal Hospital as a beacon of excellence in the domain of care. Most impressive also are the new berths in the Long Wards which now enable In-Pensioners, quite deservedly, to enjoy accommodation that has been built to the highest modern specifications, and yet remains in keeping with their historic surroundings.”
The refurbishment programme has altered the original Sir Christopher Wren designed Long Wards (long corridors of berths) from 1682 being modernised from 9x9 ft rooms, without windows and only communal bathroom facilities; to newly refurbished rooms with a large window and en suite bathroom, bedroom and study.
The Chelsea Pensioner who is to reside in the ‘Freemasons berth’ is 77-year-old Gordon ‘Sandy’ Sanders.
At the berth opening ceremony Sandy commented, “I’ve been moved from the seventeenth to the twenty-first century. The accommodation is no less than fantastic.”
The berth naming ceremony on Founder’s Day was for the Royal Hospital Chelsea to thank the Freemasons for their ongoing support of its extensive refurbishment programme.
The Freemasons have made donations to the Royal Hospital Chelsea charity over a number of years, including for the recently opened Margaret Thatcher Infirmary that provides 24-hour nursing care.
Chelsea Pensioners have recognised the work efforts of staff who will be working over the Christmas period
Christmas Cake donated by the Australian Defence Force as a symbol of the enduring friendship between the UK and Australia