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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Chelsea Pensioner pictured Dairy UK Chair Paul Vernon, the Governor of the Royal Hospital and the ceremonial cheese
Chelsea Pensioners and Dairy UK take part in the annual Ceremony of the Christmas Cheeses

A festive tradition dating back to the opening of the Royal Hospital in 1692 – today Dairy UK donated over 270kg of British cheeses to the Chelsea Pensioners to tide them over the festive period.

Christmas Pudding
Festivities begin with the stirring of the Christmas Pudding

The Christmas period officially got underway today at the Royal Hospital, as the Chelsea Pensioners took part in the tradition of stirring in the ingredients for the Christmas pudding.

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