To celebrate National Siblings Day, we spoke to Chelsea Pensioners and brothers David (below right) and Tom (below left) Lyall – affectionately called ‘the Lyall brothers’ by those that know them. David, 85 and Tom, 80, joined the Royal Hospital Chelsea in 2012. Although a few other sets of siblings have since become Chelsea Pensioners, the Lyall brothers are unique in being admitted to the Royal Hospital at the same time. This is because, apart from their Army service which was served separately, the Lyall brothers have spent their whole lives living together in their family home in Cheltenham, so it only seemed natural to begin their next chapter in the same way.
David and Tom both work as Research Assistants in the Royal Hospital archives, responding to ancestry enquires. When describing the work that they do, David commented: “It suits us very well. I was a solicitor for 50 years and am very used to conducting research, whilst Tom used to run a computerised maintenance system, so we are both detail oriented and computer literate. We also share a keen interest in history and find military history particularly fascinating. The great thing about this job is that is keeps our minds active and gives us something to do every day, which is important when you get to our age.”
When asked about what makes their relationship special, Tom said: “We have an incredibly close relationship and spend most of our time together. It’s a local joke here that we are rarely seen without each other. If one of us goes out and about alone and somebody spots us, we are usually asked ‘where’s the other one?’ We are very comfortable in each other’s company and often say that we can communicate telepathically.”
The telepathic way in which the Lyall brothers communicate was clear throughout the interview, as they have an endearing habit of finishing each other's sentences -- no doubt a product of their harmonious and close knit relationship.
The Royal Hospital Chelsea is celebrating National Care Home Open Day 2018 on Friday 20th April, by opening the doors to its dedicated care facility – the Margaret Thatcher Infirmary (MTI).
Chelsea Pensioners, David and Tom Lyall describe their close sibling relationship