Will you help open our life-enhancing new Activities Centre?

10th September 2020

Pensioner Monica Parrott

Here at the Royal Hospital, we’ve long observed the benefits that taking part in activities has on the Chelsea Pensioners. Evidence from medical professionals increasingly supports our view that having interests improves physical and mental wellbeing and combats isolation.

However, because our current facilities are inadequate, Pensioners with disabilities, impairments and life-limiting illnesses simply can’t take part safely. Even the more able Pensioners find there isn’t scope for them to join in, or feel discouraged from participating:

Chelsea Pensioner and T’ai Chi enthusiast Monica says:

“We’re shoved about from pillar to post at the moment. People have to go round the back by the laundry to do some activities. It’s not very light and it’s not very attractive.”

Chelsea Pensioners need on-site activities now, more than ever

Having an on-site Centre where Pensioners can enjoy a range of hobbies is even more urgent in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only are our Pensioners particularly vulnerable, but lockdown has left many frailer and less confident than they were.  

That’s why, despite the huge financial challenges the pandemic has posed, we have prioritised the construction of this state-of-the-art, fully accessible, purpose-built facility. Peter, Chelsea Pensioner and woodworker said:

"With these conditions we have now it’s important to have activities on site - you need to have somewhere to go away from your ward where you have space. It will be brilliant for the guys in the Infirmary in particular to get out to the Activities Centre."

Give today and the Hospital will double your donation.

Our Commissioners are so convinced of the lasting benefits the Activities Centre will bring to our community that they’ve agreed to match every donation you make; up to our target of £1 million.

That means your gift today will be worth twice as much – plus another 25% if you’re signed up to Gift Aid.

By giving to our appeal today, you will help us open the doors of our Activities Centre next summer – so Pensioners can enjoy all it has to offer as soon as possible.

A Chelsea Pensioner making pottery

The benefits of activites are so vital to our Pensioners, according to John, Chelsea Pensioner and Potter:

"Pottery gave me a focus outside my pain and was good therapy. It brought me back when I was very depressed and made me socialise in a happy, supportive environment." 

A state-of-the-art facility, purpose-built for veterans

The Activities Centre has been designed to meet the needs of Chelsea Pensioners, whatever their abilities. It will be light, spacious and attractive – harmonising with our existing historic buildings. Every detail has been considered – from handrails, accessible lifts and mobility scooter parking and charging, to interiors designed to meet the needs of those with sensory impairments, dementia and mental health issues.

The centre will accommodate a wide range of activities, with flexible large and small spaces and hobby rooms, as well as areas to relax and socialise. The facilities range from adjustable workbenches for woodworkers, to a pottery kiln, computer room and a kitchen for cookery lessons.

We also look forward to welcoming veterans from the wider community, who may be leading isolated lives, so they too can enjoy activities and mix with other former soldiers.

General Sir Adrian Bradshaw

A message from General Sir Adrian Bradshaw, KCB OBE DL, Governor and Commissioner of The Royal Hospital Chelsea:

"Please join us in our drive to open this wonderful addition to our historic home next summer by backing this appeal. Despite the serious financial impact of the pandemic, we have pledged to match every donation we receive as the impact of COVID-19 has reaffirmed the urgent need for this facility."

Help us give our Pensioners the rich and rewarding retirement they deserve

I hope you will support our determination to open our Activities Centre on time. By working together, we can ensure that former soldiers who have been prepared to sacrifice their lives for our Nation can enjoy the quality of life they deserve during their well-earned retirement.

Give today and help us raise the £1 million we need to open on time - every pound you give will be matched by our Commissioners

Donate Now

Royal Hospital Chelsea Newsletter

Stay up to date with what's going on at The Royal Hospital by signing up for our e‑newsletter.


View the archive

Grinling Gibbons statue of Charles II
The story behind the statue

On 3 August 2021 it will be 300 years since Grinling Gibbons’ death. Gibbons is celebrated as arguably the greatest decorative wood carver in British history. However, at the Royal Hospital we know him as the artist responsible for the striking gilded statue of our founder that stands in Figure Court – named in its honour. 

HRH Duke of Gloucester meeting Pensioner Tony Judge
Hope and happiness as Chelsea Pensioners celebrate the return of Founder’s Day

Founder’s Day is the highlight of the Royal Hospital’s calendar. Ever since 1692, it has been held on or close to 29 May – the birth of King Charles II and the date of his restoration to the throne. 


Follow @RHChelsea