Chelsea Pensioner Sandy
(Photo: Charlie Surbey)

Gordon "Sandy" Sanders

"I am very proud to be a Chelsea Pensioner. I served in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers between 1952 and 1976. In 1986 my wife was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease and we decided to move to Portugal. By 1999, she was so ill that we had to return to England in the hope of finding a kidney donor. We found a donor... me.

It's amazing when you think about it. The chances of it happening are so slim. I was 65 then, too old for an op like that really, but it gave my wife another seven and a half years of happiness. She died on 12th July 2007. We'd been married for 48 years. 

Being at the Royal Hospital has taken away the loneliness of my bereavement. My days are full. the biggest thing that keeps you going is the banter - no one has a good word to say about anyone else and we wouldn't have it any other way! It keeps us alive!"

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Brompton Cemetery Seed Sowing
Sowing wildflowers in memory of past Chelsea Pensioners

On 6 May, Chelsea Pensioners and members of the Royal Hospital’s grounds team joined representatives from the Royal Parks, the Royal Parks Guild and the Friends of Brompton Cemetery to sow a patch of wildflower seeds in Brompton Cemetery as part of the Battlefields and Butterflies initiative.

Chelsea Pensioner Centenarians
100 years old and still going strong

Recent research backs up the anecdote that Chelsea Pensioners not only live considerably longer than their peers outside (by over five years, on average), but that their lifetimes once they come to the Royal Hospital are extending, year on year. This strongly suggests that the care and community here contribute to greater longevity – as well as improving quality of life. 

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