As we approach Armistice Day on 11th November, we share messages of remembrance from the Governor of the Royal Hospital and the Chelsea Pensioners attending the Cenotaph. 

Remembrance Day has always been a highlight in the Chelsea Pensioners’ year. Generally, they have a strong presence at the Cenotaph Remembrance Parade, the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall and a host of events both in the UK and overseas. This year, Remembrance at the Royal Hospital will be very different – but no less heartfelt

We were delighted to welcome footballing legend David Beckham to the Royal Hospital for the launch of the annual Poppy Appeal, to remember those who have died fighting for the Nation. 

From its extravagant beginnings as part of the estate of the 1st Earl of Ranelagh, Richard Jones (1641-1712), to its fashionable pleasure gardens and impressive rotunda, Ranelagh Gardens at the Royal Hospital Chelsea have boasted a long and fascinating history. 

The Royal Hospital introduced its Breakfast Club before lockdown, but it’s really come into its own under the restrictions. 

When lockdown was first on the horizon, the Royal Hospital wanted to find activities that would keep the Pensioners interested and occupied, without putting them at risk. The Army drill of pace-sticking was suggested and not only has it proved extremely popular, the Chelsea Pensioner pace-stickers held their own against serving soldiers when they visited Sandhurst for the annual pace-sticking competition. Due to the exceptional circumstances this year, the usual international event was replaced by the first-ever tri-services contest.

World Mental Health Day is on October 10 and this year it feels more important than ever to recognise that it’s not just our physical health that’s important.  The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown has had a huge impact on us all. And the Chelsea Pensioners are no exception.

Eighty years ago, Londoners were facing a crisis. A sustained bombing attack on the capital by the German army began on 7 September 1940 and continued until 11 May 1941. It became known as the Blitz – the German word for lightening. During the Blitz, almost 30,000 civilians were killed, 70,000 buildings were completely demolished and another 1.7 million were damaged.

The Royal Hospital’s Matron and Registered Manager, Susan Williams, has been a key part of our community for 10 years, so both Pensioners and staff are very sad to say goodbye to her.

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.

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Community, creativity and connection - Chelsea Pensioners and the Soldiers’ Arts Academy

The Soldiers’ Arts Academy links serving and veteran Army personnel and their families with professionals from the creative arts. Through a range of workshops, projects and productions they give participants the opportunity to discover new interests, recover from difficult experiences, transition into civilian life and even find new careers. 

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Researching our old Burial Ground gives Chelsea Pensioners a new lease of life

The monuments in the old Burial Ground record Chelsea Pensioners who took part in famous battles, former Governors and other members of staff and their families – and famous figures from the Royal Hospital’s history.

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