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.
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.
To mark the International Day of Charity on 5 September we would like to highlight just how important and valued fundraisers are to the Royal Hospital. We are so grateful to all the kind people who have devoted their time, effort and talent to help us.
Whether you have been lucky enough to visit our Great Hall in person, or have experienced its grandeur by watching our virtual tours, it's difficult not to be impressed by the imposing mural that adorns the back wall where Pensioners take their meals.
From delivering post, to guiding visitors around our historic site, the Chelsea Pensioners can choose to take on a number of different jobs while living at the Royal Hospital. One of the more unusual roles previously adopted by Pensioners was as a member of the Chelsea Patrol; a London garrison stationed between the Royal Hospital and St James’ Palace to deter against criminal activity and protect the city against the growing threat posed by the Jacobite movement.
75 years has passed since the Japanese surrendered and World War II finally ended. Today we acknowledge the crucial part those soldiers in the Far East played in winning us the freedoms we enjoy today.