This Christmas, we’re delighted to be sharing the Royal Hospital’s first-ever handmade advent calendar. From the photograph of the our colonnade – which forms the backdrop of the calendar – to the treasures hidden behind each door, every part of the calendar has been made by a Chelsea Pensioner. 

Christmas is a time for celebration. However, it can also highlight feelings of sadness and loss. Our wonderful care team do their utmost to support Pensioners, whatever their needs, during the festive season.

Today we welcomed HM Paymaster General, Oliver Dowden CBE, to the Royal Hospital to meet the Chelsea Pensioners in his role as an Ex-officio Commissioner.

As we look ahead to the upcoming festive holidays, we caught up with some of the Chelsea Pensioners who have been sharing their memories of Christmas past.

Pat McGurk joined the Army at 17 and never looked back. As a driver in the Royal Corps of Transport, he worked with close protection and the SAS, before driving dignitaries, VIPs and royalty. 

Chelsea Pensioner Dewi Treharne served for 27 years in the British Army. During that time, he was posted all over the world and grew particularly attached to Germany, where he spent 15 years of his military career. 

The Royal Hospital’s weekly pottery club, run by Emily Hall, is very popular with the Pensioners – particularly at this time of year, as they plan their festive projects. 

The International Churchill society recognises the Chelsea Pensioner veterans of World War II and the leadership of the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

As we remember those who lost their lives in the line of duty, some of our Chelsea Pensioners, who served in World War II, share their own thoughts and memories of wartime losses. 

Chelsea Pensioners get involved with a host of remembrance events across the UK and overseas. This year, Pensioners are representing us at locations from Blackheath to Bahrain, Pontefract to Paris.

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Paul Whittick
“When we’re out of lockdown, I’ll be ready!”

Chelsea Pensioner Paul Whittick, who served in the Royal Army Medical Corps, has always been keen on keeping fit. In the light of lockdown, he says staying physically and mentally active is more important than ever.

Pensioners on parade for the Royal visit
“It’s a lovely day tomorrow”

The pandemic has meant it’s been a very difficult year for us all. The Chelsea Pensioners are no exception and have missed getting out and about. Nevertheless, they’ve put a brave face on it and, as one Chelsea Pensioner puts it, “the banter continues”.

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