In response to the current Coronavirus pandemic, please see our messages from CEO Gary Lashko and the Governor of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, General Sir Adrian Bradshaw KCB OBE DL:

Gary Lashko - Chief Executive of the Royal Hospital Chelsea
 Friday 3rd December 2021

I'm writing to update you on the latest at the Royal Hospital Chelsea. As, like the rest of the world, we are unsure currently of what the Omicron variant means for our community, we have taken the decision, to once again be ahead of the curve and put some precautions in place to protect our vulnerable Pensioner population and the staff who care for them, ahead of the holiday period. We have asked for our staff who are able to work from home to once again do so, and we have stripped back our festive events to ensure everyone's safety. We had been looking forward to a full festive season with our events taking place as normal but unfortunately this will not be possible, although this year, unlike last, we are not cancelling events, just re-imagining them with strict restrictions in place.

We now require for anyone attending an event or conducting business on site to show proof of a negative Lateral Flow Test on arrival. The only exceptions are members of the public using the Post Office and shop, or operational deliveries.

Post Office
The Post Office and Shop remain open to the public. Monday-Friday 9.30-4.30 (closed for lunch from 12.30 - 1.30). If you are looking for Christmas gifts our online shop is a treasure trove of perfect stocking fillers, and you will be supporting the organisation with your purchase too!. Visit our online shop here.

We are selling fabulous Christmas trees at Burton Court, please do pop along to buy one, as some proceeds also support the Hospital.

Although normal Sunday Services at 9am and 11am will still be open to the public, I am sad to say that our special December Services in the Chapel are now only for the Chelsea Pensioners and staff. Members of the congregation, local residents and other visitors will now not have access to the Royal Hospital on the following occasions:

  • Carol Service Sunday 19th December at 1500
  • Christmas Eve at 1800
  • Christmas Day at 1100

Please note there will also be no Service on Sunday the 26th of December.

Coffee Shop and Grounds
The Coffee Shop and Ranelagh Gardens remain closed to the public at this time. Friends and family of Pensioners are still welcome to use the Coffee Shop by invitation from a Pensioner. The South Grounds remain open to the public, as they have done throughout the pandemic. Please see here for all the latest restrictions and changes at the Royal Hospital and look out for us on all the usual social media channels too. We are putting these measures in place early to try to ensure that we are able to give the Chelsea Pensioners the best Christmas we can, and regrettably this means a few additional precautionary measures over the next few weeks. Hopefully, as more understanding of the omicron variant emerges, we will be able to review and adjust them.

As ever, thank you for your continued support and understanding.

With all my good wishes for the holiday season.

Gary Lashko CEO

Thursday 15th July 2021

With the anticipation of ‘freedom day’ around the corner, I would like to update you on the Royal Hospital’s next steps. 

Throughout the pandemic we have been working incredibly hard to stay one step ahead of the virus and have acted on occasion with more caution than the government guidelines have requested. Our decisions have been based on how to keep our vulnerable cohort of Chelsea Pensioners as safe as we can and preserve life. As the country prepares to lift all restrictions, the Hospital is opting for a more restrained approach. Unfortunately, with the current rise in infections in the area, our Chelsea Pensioners remain at risk, despite nearly 100% being double vaccinated. Therefore, our main site remains closed to the public apart from the Post Office, Shop (10.30-16.30, closed for lunch 12.30-13.30) and Burton Court, which remains open for members. 

The areas that remain closed include: the Coffee Shop, the Chelsea Pensioners’ Club, and Ranelagh Gardens. We look forward to welcoming visitors to our Sunday Chapel services from August 1st, but with certain restrictions still in place and access only available from the North Front. In addition, the South Grounds will close to the public on the 29th of July as we prepare for our summer season of events which you can find details of below. 

We are looking forward to a time when infection levels are low enough for us to feel confident enough to open up once more to the public. As an extra precaution, we have asked staff who are able to work from home to continue doing so. For the most up-to-date information regarding coronavirus restrictions at the Hospital please visit:

As mentioned in my last communication, we are holding a delayed and reduced capacity Founder’s Day Parade where the Pensioners have invited their friends and family to celebrate the founding of the Royal Hospital 329 years ago. We are very proud of our heritage and the fact that we have been providing a home and comradeship to old soldiers for over three centuries. 

We look forward to welcoming you back to this unique institution that continues its core mission, despite all the challenges it is currently facing. Until then, thank you for your continued support and I hope you and your loved ones stay safe. 

Gary Lashko CEO

Monday 21st June

With the recent Government announcement that restrictions will not be lifted as planned, we have had to make some changes to our plans accordingly.

The continuing good news is that that most of our Pensioners are well protected against existing variants through near 100% uptake of vaccination, our weekly testing programme for Pensioners and staff and continued social distancing and hygiene measures across the Hospital. Unfortunately, the news about the continued lockdown measures means that the Chelsea Pensioners will not be taking full part in their usual public duties and that the main Royal Hospital site will not be generally open to the public for some time. Burton Court is fully open to members and school groups and we are pleased that our Post Office and shop remain open to the public, either in person or through our new Click and Collect service. Our Chapel remains closed to the public at the current time but we hope to open once again on the 1st of August. 

We are also happy to welcome more friends and family through our gates to see their loved ones, which has given the Pensioners a much-needed boost. There are protocols that apply to visits so please check for the most up to date information.  

Regrettably, the date of our Founder’s Day Parade that was due to take place on the 15th of July has now been postponed to the 5th of August. We did not take this decision lightly, but we want to hold an event where the Pensioners can invite their friends and family and have a special day with their loved ones. Like last year, the Parade will take a different format but we are looking forward to welcoming some guests who have been much missed from our community life. 

Our Army colleagues have been supporting our rigorous testing regime since July 2020 but as the country moves forward with returning to normal it means they will need to return to their regular duties. It has been a great help having such a dedicated team onsite to ensure the safety of staff and Pensioners and the Hospital is looking into how we become self-sufficient in this very important area of what now is daily life.  We have also been making sure that each Pensioner has one of the new lightweight scarlets in time for the summer parades and events - thank to all of you who helped by donating funds to providing them.  And we have continued to build the new Activities and Hobby Centre which will help the Pensioners stay active - again thank you to all who have contributed towards that  building - for which the Pensioners are choosing a name. 

Although we have all had another delay to getting back to normal, we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. With that in mind we are also looking forward to hosting some of our major events that we have missed over the past year. The Chelsea Flower Show is an annual highlight for Pensioners and the public and we are excited to see the best of the horticulture world once more in a socially distanced way!

Finally, I would like to say a big thank you for your continued support and I hope to see you soon hopefully at one of our wonderful events! 

Gary Lashko 
CEO, the Royal Hospital Chelsea

Friday 18th June

Following the Government’s announcement on Monday of a four-week delay in the easing of restrictions, The Governor regretfully announces that Founder’s Day that was planned for the 15th of July will no longer take place. We did not take this decision lightly, but we want to, as ever, protect our Chelsea Pensioners and Staff as our first priority. We would like to hold an event where the Pensioners can invite their friends and family and have a special day with their loved ones to celebrate the end of lockdown with those important to our community.

As such we have decided to delay Founder’s Day to Thursday 5 August. The Governor’s Review, due to be held on Tuesday 13 July, has similarly been delayed to Tuesday 3 August.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused by this necessary change, if you were invited to either Founder's Day or the Governor's Review and have any questions about your invitation, please contact Mark Williams

On behalf of the Royal Hospital and the Chelsea Pensioners, I thank you for your continued support and understanding.

Gary Lashko,
CEO, Royal Hospital Chelsea

Monday 17th May 2021

As the country moves ahead with the next level of restrictions being lifted, I would like to update you again with what is new at the Hospital. 

As ever, the welfare of our vulnerable veterans is at the heart of what we do, and we now cautiously look to start ‘unlocking’ the Royal Hospital in step with the government roadmap. I am happy to report that at the time of writing none of our Chelsea Pensioners currently have tested positive with Covid. 99% percent of all Pensioners have now been vaccinated and we look forward to a summer of events, that will be carried out with strict Covid safety measures in place which means that we are still able to accommodate fewer guests and visitors than usual from outside our gates. 

We are not in a position yet, to open to the public, aside from the use of the Post Office, so Ranelagh Gardens and our main site remain closed to the general public. Activity on Burton Court has resumed, and it gives us great pleasure to see the tennis courts and other sports facilities in full use once again. We are particularly delighted that easing of Government restrictions for care homes means that those Pensioners who are in the MTI will be able to have visits from more of their friends and family.  (Please see here for the most up to date visitor arrangements.) 

We are still testing all of our staff regularly and after a long winter of lockdown the Pensioners are cheered by the fact that from today they can invite up to 5 guests to have a cup of tea indoors, in one of our larger, well ventilated spaces. Friends and family cannot yet be admitted to Pensioner accommodation but each step is now a step in the right direction. The Pensioners are also now able to mix more freely indoors, rather than just outside for walks and we are now able to add to our extensive outdoor activity programme with more activities indoors. 

Our Founder’s Day Parade this year will yet again take a different format and date from last year or prior years.  Unlike last year, the Pensioners are now able to invite a select few friends and family. In addition, they will be sporting their new lightweight scarlet jackets for the first time on parade, which was only made possible thanks to our generous supporters who raised the funds before the pandemic. All at the Royal Hospital are looking forward to the Parade and having the opportunity to socialise once more as a community albeit in a socially distanced way!

Although, we are looking forward to better days ahead, we still mourn those we have lost during the pandemic and they remain in our thoughts. On the 3rd of June we will be holding a Military Parade and Memorial Service for staff and Pensioners in Figure Court. As many Pensioners as possible will join staff representatives from each department to pay their respects to those members of our tight-knit community who sadly passed away from either Covid or other illness over the past 15 months.  

Although we are not in the position to welcome the public back quite yet, there is still a hub of activity behind the scenes and we are delighted that many of the activities which we host are returning in some form (see timetable below). We hope that with the continued caution, widespread testing and vaccine roll out across the country we will be able to see many more of our much-missed friends and supporters again soon. 

As ever, thank you for your continued support and my best wishes for your continued well-being and safety. 

Upcoming events for your diary:

Luna Cinema 16th-19th September

Chelsea Flower Show - 21st –26th September 

Chelsea History Festival 22nd – 26th September - details coming soon!

As always, our plans and proposals are subject to review and may be curtailed or adjusted at short notice in order to comply with revised government guidelines or to give added protection to the Pensioners. Please visit our website for the latest information. 

Friday 4th December 2020

As the country moves from Lockdown into its various Tiers, I thought I would take this opportunity to update you with what is happening at the Hospital.

Although Londoners now have the opportunity to enjoy some of the freedoms that being in Tier 2 entails, infection rates in our immediate vicinity remain uncomfortably high, so we are pleased that the Pensioners are following our strong advice that, for their protection, and that of their more vulnerable comrades, they should remain ‘confined to barracks’. This is unfortunately all the more pressing since a handful of Pensioners together with a number of staff members have succumbed to the second wave sweeping the country and recently tested positive for COVID 19. We are grateful to our colleagues from the serving Army once more for their additional support to strengthen our hard-working in-house team. 

Sadly, I have to report that one of our Pensioners has passed away after their positive diagnosis. This means that a total of 11 Pensioners have died following a COVID diagnosis. We take comfort that we are able to offer our unique and specialist care to our Veterans at the end of their lives. We collectively mourn every individual who passes away.

Testing and Visitors

We have been testing all Pensioners and Pensioner facing staff weekly for some time now; we have recently introduced ‘lateral flow’ tests for staff so that we can additionally test them twice a week in conjunction with shift patterns.

At present the site remains closed to all visitors (except contractors and vital business visitors) and admin and office staff continue to work from home. We will be making arrangements for family, friends and all visitors to be tested when they come on site for a pre-booked arranged visit, so that, like other care homes, visits can take place before Christmas. Please check back on our website for details. The Hospital remains closed to all other visitors until further notice.

Pensioner wellbeing

We continue to care for all those who have recovered; we estimate that over the year, 160 of our Pensioners contracted the virus (some without knowing it or showing any symptoms) mostly in the Spring in the early days of the first wave. Many have made a full recovery; others benefit from the extra care and emotional support that your kind donations continue to make possible.

As ever our ‘Ministry of Fun’ coordinated by the activities and social care teams have been keeping morale high through a number of COVID-safe initiatives. Outdoor exercise classes, including Tai Chi and walks round the gardens, still have a high attendance, while quizzes and bespoke activity packs for different wards are providing some much-needed interaction for rainy days.

On our specialist dementia ward, the team have provided an extraordinary 250 video calls since the outbreak back in March, allowing friends and family to continue to connect with loved ones – albeit from a distance.

Getting us through

Throughout the pandemic we have been supporting our local community. Our South Grounds (separated from our main site) have remained open throughout the lockdowns; available to local residents for exercise and, during the summer, hosted Luna Outdoor Cinema. Part of these Grounds are now home for three days a week to a mobile COVID testing centre, with its own access from Chelsea Embankment.

We are all delighted by the good news that a vaccine is on its way and for the encouragement that gives us for our community life to be fully restored and that, in due course, we will be able to welcome our many friends and supporters back to the Royal Hospital.

Until then, my best wishes to you all for your continued well-being and safety.

Gary Lashko 
CEO, the Royal Hospital Chelsea  

Friday 6th November 2020

During this week of Remembrance commemorations and now the new lockdown is in place; I would like to update you on the situation at the Royal Hospital. In usual times, our Pensioners would be proudly representing Army veterans at events across the Nation and the world. This year, unfortunately, they are for the most part confined to barracks. I am pleased to say that although you won’t be seeing the famous Scarlet coats out and about, you will be able to see a small number of them at the Cenotaph commemorations (BBC ONE, November 8th) and during the Festival of Remembrance (BBC ONE, November 7th, 9.10pm). Please do tune in if you can.

You may have also seen that David Beckham visited the Hospital recently and spent some time meeting and greeting Pensioners (socially distanced of course) and provided a real morale boost for our community. You can read more about his visit here.  

As ever, Coronavirus is at the forefront of our minds at the Hospital, since the start of the pandemic we have been applying strenuous protocols to try and keep our vulnerable population as safe as we can. With increasing rates of infection within London, it is inevitable that our community will not be unscathed by the next wave of the pandemic. We are testing Pensioners and staff on a weekly basis, which allows us to identify any infection quickly and ensures that we can contain it via self-isolation protocols immediately. Any Pensioners who are required to self-isolate have the full support of our wonderful staff team here at the Hospital. We have been adhering to strict social distancing and our site is set out into zones to ensure Pensioner and staff safety. I can confirm that we currently have no cases of Coronavirus within our community at the moment and have no serious incidents to report.  

We are in regular contact with the Care Quality Commission and the Royal Borough of Chelsea and Kensington council and are following advice from both these organisations along with Government guidelines. The main site remains to be closed to the public and since Thursday our Pensioner’s Club is closed and our on-site coffee shop is serving take-aways only. All staff who can work from home are doing so.  

The period of Remembrance, is one of quiet reflection at the Hospital. We will be commemorating Remembrance Sunday with a small ‘Drum-Head’ Service within our grounds. It will be a particularly poignant Service as we not only pay our respects to those who lost their lives through conflict but also honour those who have left us recently. Remembrance Day reminds us that we are all capable of incredible efforts and sacrifice and what, through the strength of our humanity, we can bear and achieve. We thank you for your continued support during this turbulent year.  

With my best wishes,  

Gary Lashko 
CEO, the Royal Hospital Chelsea  

Friday 25th September 2020

It has been some time since we last updated you with the situation at the Royal Hospital. Like the rest of the country, we have been making the most of the good weather and easing of COVID restrictions over the summer to reinvent safe, socially distanced community life at the Royal Hospital. I hope that you have been able to follow some of those activities via our social media channels and on our website. The lower level of infection in the country at large during summer, and strict adherence to our own hygiene and social distancing protocols have kept us largely infection free over that time with no serious incidence to report.

The summer respite, though, appears to have been short lived. Since the Government announcement on Tuesday we have had to consider what rising infection figures in London and the UK mean for how we conduct our day-to-day business. As ever, our upmost priority remains to keep our vulnerable population of Chelsea Pensioners as safe as possible. Currently, we have no signs of the infection within the gates, but we are all too aware of how quickly this can change and the potential consequences this can incur.  

We have been following the course of the pandemic over the last 6 months as a community and staying ahead of the curve in the early days; interpreting guidelines and taking measures to give the best protection to our Pensioners and staff. We have also honoured those we have lost, supported others through recovery, and found creative and imaginative new ways to maintain community life. 

Our approach to the Covid-19 second wave will be guided by the following principles:  

  • Protecting the lives, health and wellbeing of our Pensioners, our staff and other residents of the Royal Hospital;
  • Obeying the law and following government guidance; and
  • Testing Pensioners and Pensioner-facing staff regularly. 

In contrast to our approach to the first wave, we hope to continue as much of our community life as is possible within the gates. We will be modifying our approach to apply the learnings we have gleaned over the last few months, while prioritising safety and our Pensioners’ mental and physical health.

The factor that has allowed us to even consider this, is that we now have access to regular, individual testing for Covid-19. This enables us to identify and immediately quarantine anyone who is infected, whether they are showing symptoms or not. Our testing programme is robust, and by supplementing NHS provision with some privately sourced testing, we can regularly test front-line staff and Pensioners which ensures we have an accurate picture within our close-knit community. If we do detect the virus within our population, we revert to our strict protocols and tackle any instances immediately.  

As per the Government guidelines, we continue to ensure that any staff member who can work from home does so. The site also remains closed to the public, apart from the South Grounds and Burton Court, which are unfrequented by Pensioners. These areas have remained open for public and member access throughout. We also have a strict rota system in place for friends and families to visit their loved ones within socially distanced settings.

Like the rest of the country, we have taken learnings from the first wave and are now in a position to act in the most agile way possible, which gives us a level of assurance and comfort as we sadly head towards a second wave. Life in the Army is all about teamwork - demonstrating self-discipline and accepting group tasks and restrictions to achieve a shared objective over individual ones. While this is familiar to our Pensioners, it has now become a rallying cry for the whole country!

Despite these challenges, the Pensioners’ morale remains high. Their spirits have been lifted with the few (socially distanced) events we were able to hold on the South Grounds, including being part of the audience for the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms. They do, however, miss their public duties and are patiently waiting for the time when it is safe for them to represent the Veteran community once more outside the gates. All being well, you will see a selected few of them on screen as part of the national Remembrance commemorations in November.  

My thanks to all those who have sent greetings to the Pensioners, or who have made a donation either towards our new Activity Centre, or to help us meet the additional costs we have incurred to keep the Pensioners safe and well. Your gifts and good wishes are deeply valued and appreciated - knowing we have the support of so many people help to strengthen our confidence at a time of greater uncertainty.

I hope you and your loved ones remain safe and we all look forward to welcoming you back in person to the Royal Hospital as soon as ­the situation allows.

With best wishes,  

Gary Lashko  
CEO, the Royal Hospital Chelsea  

Wednesday 8th July 2020

General Sir Adrian Bradshaw, KCB, OBE, DL
As the country moves towards the easing of lockdown, with more public spaces opening up, I wanted to update you on the situation at the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Firstly, we are greatly encouraged that - at the time of writing - we now have just one positive case of Coronavirus within the gates of the Royal Hospital and he is making a good recovery, having picked up the infection on a necessary outpatient appointment. I am also pleased to report that the member of staff who has been in hospital in a serious condition with COVID-19 for a number of weeks has shown some improvement in his condition. Whilst he remains very ill and is not free from the risk of a reverse, we are delighted with this news and continue to think of him as he starts out on the road to recovery.

I would like to take this opportunity to praise all our dedicated staff who have worked so hard to care for the Pensioners under unprecedented pressure and within the parameters of many additional safety protocols. It has been uplifting to see such a talented pool of people pulling together across different departments, all with the common goals of keeping the Chelsea Pensioners safe and safeguarding the Hospital for future generations of Veterans.

Like many other organisations we have been considering how we can return to some form of normality whilst taking care of the health and wellbeing of those under our care, whilst COVID-19 remains in circulation in the community outside our gates. Accordingly, Pensioners are now able to enjoy a much-anticipated pint of beer from the Chelsea Pensioners Club, which must be drunk al fresco and socially distanced, and those that wish are now able to visit shops in the neighbourhood, subject to a number of precautions including weekly swab tests for COVID-19. As the need for continued restrictions in Leicester remind us, we are not out of the woods yet.

We have learned much over the last weeks. The Pensioner currently recovering in isolation, picked up COVID-19 during a visit to hospital for other treatment. Our robust on-site ‘test, trace and isolate’ system, meant that we were able to react to the infection immediately and contain it, identifying and isolating others as a precaution and testing any possible contacts. Front line care staff and those who work in our Infirmary are being tested twice a week. Pensioners, as necessary and through participation in a research project at Chelsea and Westminster hospital, and frontline staff have received antibody tests. With extensive use of PPE, strict hygiene measures, zoning and continued maintenance of 2m social distancing on site, and by monitoring of local infection incidence, our protections on-site are robust, with the potential to be strengthened further or scaled up should risk levels increase locally.

Spirits at the Royal Hospital - although tinged with sadness for the loss of our comrades – remain high. The Pensioners are a resilient and resourceful group who have adapted to lockdown circumstances with good humour and ingenuity. Maintaining and enhancing mental and physical wellbeing remains one of our core objectives and the Activities Team have worked tirelessly throughout lockdown to ensure Pensioners have access to a wide variety of stimulating and enjoyable pastimes, ranging from Tai-Chi to photography, and even our own onsite radio station! We look forward to extending the range even further, and inviting other Veterans to join us, when we open our new Activities Centre in the future.

The Royal Hospital is known for its traditions but since our inception we have always been on the front foot of innovation. During this period of crisis, we have continued to adapt and innovate our practices, encouraging Pensioners to keep in touch with loved ones using the latest technology and even getting some of the Pensioners involved in the first ‘virtual’ Royal parade, capitalising on the presence of the King’s Royal Hussars on Ceremonial duties in London, during which HRH The Princess Royal reviewed Pensioners and addressed the parade on-line. All activities on-site were of course strictly socially distanced and conducted in accordance with Government guidelines. We have also started new online ventures with other Military organisations and have piloted an ‘online breakfast club’ to connect with other older Veterans. We are continuing to explore other ways in which we support Veterans outside the RHC who are living alone or being cared for by their families.

Sadly it may be some time before you once again see Pensioners in their famous Scarlet coats at outside events representing the Veteran community, as they usually do so marvellously, but the Pensioners are cheered that they can now take leave to see loved ones in accordance with our strict safely protocols, which include a period of isolation on return for the safety of their comrades.

For now, with sadness, the Hospital gates remain closed to the public. However, we all look forward to welcoming our friends and supporters back as soon as it safe to do so.

With my best wishes,
General Sir Adrian Bradshaw KCB OBE DL
Royal Hospital Chelsea

Wednesday 27th May 2020

As debate in the country moves on to discuss the complexities of easing lockdown restrictions, I wanted to write to update you on our situation at the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

Whilst we are saddened and mourn the loss of 10 of our Pensioners to COVID-19, we are encouraged by the recovery of 77 Pensioners who either tested positive for COVID-19 or showed symptoms before testing was available. It is a tribute, not only to their resilience, but also to our medical and care staff, supported by a small team from the Royal Army Medical Corps, who have all worked so hard to deliver the best possible support to those fighting the disease. We have been able to give them a high level of medical, nursing and social care whilst also looking after those who were playing their part in protecting the whole resident community by isolating and social distancing, thereby reducing the burden on our local NHS. We have worked closely with the borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and have appreciated their active support and understanding.

At the same time, we have been acutely aware of the challenges that this has placed on the mental and emotional well being of the Pensioners – some being deprived of the day to day companionship and comradeship that is the hallmark of shared community life, and most others only able to enjoy it at a distance. The activities team have been ingenious and resourceful in contributing to the effort to keep Pensioners fit, entertained, encouraged and enthused.

Like the rest of the country, we are learning more about COVID-19 and how to live with it every day. As well as social distancing, the Hospital is now zoned so that in the event of a suspected infection, we are able to limit its potential to spread, which is in any case controlled by our strict social distancing and cleanliness measures. As supplies have become available, we have ramped up our on-site testing capability so that we can take appropriate action to safeguard both Pensioners and staff, particularly mindful of the threat from asymptomatic carriers.

Life this summer is proving very different. We are missing our usual visitors; the Chelsea Flower Show; Masterpiece; Live at Chelsea. Founder’s Day will be a decidedly homespun, affair – but no less special. We will rightly give credit to the vision of our Founder, Charles the Second, and pay tribute to all those throughout the centuries who have been faithful to his vision to provide a home for those who have given loyal service to our Sovereign and Nation. This year’s private, socially-distanced ceremony will have special poignancy and meaning, as do our regular memorial services for those whose funerals our Pensioners can no longer attend.

We are enormously grateful for the messages of encouragement and support that we have received, particularly through our online Pensioner Pals portal, and for the many kind offers of financial and material support. The Nation is only just beginning to understand the enormous financial burden that it will bear alongside the more immediate and pressing human and emotional costs of this pandemic. We are no different, with the increased costs of providing care and support and loss of event income over this period.

None of us know what life will be like the other side of Coronavirus; it will not be the same and, as we have done over the last 325 years, we will adapt and adjust our plans accordingly. However, the spirit, good humour and indomitable character of the Pensioners continues to inspire.

With my best wishes,
General Sir Adrian Bradshaw KCB OBE DL
Royal Hospital Chelsea

Friday 15th May 2020

Last week marked the 75th Anniversary of VE Day, a time of hope and reunion that feels particularly poignant during the current circumstances.  Many of our Chelsea Pensioners can recall their VE Day memories and will be doing so in interviews over the coming days.  Some were recovering in Hospitals from injuries sustained during the war and others were children, eating sweets for the first time and welcoming home fathers that they had not met before.  Most of our Pensioners have risked their lives serving our Nation through war and conflict somewhere in the world, just as our NHS staff and care workers are providing vital and sometimes dangerous service to the Nation here at home during this COVID crisis.  We salute all those working in the health and care sectors at this time and we understand only too well the difficulties that they face. 

I am sad to have to remind you that a number of the Chelsea Pensioners have passed away having become infected with the coronavirus.  Since the 14th of February, when the Royal Hospital Chelsea introduced the first of a graduated series of measures to protect our population of Pensioners and staff, out of a population of 290 Chelsea Pensioners we are very sad to confirm that we have suffered 5 COVID-related deaths here within the Royal Hospital, and a further 5 COVID-19 related deaths of our Pensioners in our local NHS Hospital.

On a brighter note, the protection and support we are giving each day to the Pensioners is paying off. 45 Pensioners have recovered from a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 and a further 29 from COVID-19 like symptoms – a total of 74.  Previous protocols advised precautionary self-isolation when testing was unavailable, but we are now able to test all who show symptoms and also all the other Pensioners and staff who live and work in the same accommodation areas, giving us additional confidence that we can provide the best possible level of protection against the disease

We continue to work closely with our local NHS hospital’s Infectious Disease consultants and colleagues in the Defence Medical Services to ensure that we have every possible protective measure in place, and we will continue to review and modify our arrangements in the light of our on-site observations, analysis and clinical advice and the evolving health advice from the Government, the NHS and Public Health England.

At the Royal Hospital we will mark VE Day in a manner appropriate to the current situation and we will reflect on the debt that we owe to those who served the Nation in every capacity during the Second World War in Europe.  Especially, as we are a home for Veterans, we will remember those who were in our Armed Forces, several of whom are living here in the Royal Hospital.  Although we will enjoy some internal, socially-distanced events, it will be against the backdrop of the recent losses we have suffered.  

Meanwhile, whilst we look forward to the chance to relax our current restrictions and see friends and family once again, we remain committed to abiding by the necessary measures to protect each other and our NHS, and we send our best wishes and thanks to all of our friends and supporters. 

With my best wishes for your safety and good health, 

General Sir Adrian Bradshaw KCB OBE DL

Governor, the Royal Hospital Chelsea

Tuesday 14 April 2020

Dear Friends, Families, Supporters and well wishers,

I am sure that we have all been encouraged by the public recognition that is being given to all those working on the front line in the battle against Coronavirus including those working in Care Homes and Social Care.  The message from HM The Queen led the way in recognising all who are working so hard to care for others, and this was reinforced by our Prime Minister’s personal thanks to those in the National Health Service who nursed him back to health.

I would like to take this opportunity to recognise the continuing, quiet, faithful and devoted service of our staff team here at the Royal Hospital.  Like the rest of the Care Sector, they come from many countries in addition to our own and they operate at every level; housekeepers, chefs, kitchen staff, porters, nurses, specialist care staff and Company Captains.  I am grateful to those who have temporarily left home and family to join the resident staff so we are able to provide an added degree of protection to our most vulnerable Pensioners, and to those who continue to travel to work, either privately or through the arrangements we have put in place to avoid public transport and are taking extra care working to tight social distancing protocols.

I would also like to recognise those who ensure we have the specialist supplies we need or are working behind the scenes at home to ensure that our back-office functions continue and that those on the front line are properly supported.  My thanks to the small but significant team from the serving Army who have also joined us on site; they are extending the range of specialist medical support that we can give to those who are ill, providing relief to our colleagues in the NHS and immediate additional care to Pensioners that need it.

We are working closely with our local NHS hospital’s Infectious Disease consultants and colleagues at the Defence Medial Services to ensure that we have every possible protective measure in place, and we will continue to review and modify our arrangements in the light of our on-site observations, analysis and clinical advice and the evolving health advice from the Government, the NHS and Public Health England.

I am very sad to announce that, whilst we are doing all we can to limit the spread and impact of Coronavirus, we have recently suffered two COVID-related deaths here within the Royal Hospital, and a further two in our local NHS Hospital. Further information about the impact of Coronavirus at the Hospital is available here.

Since our foundation, the Hospital has endeavoured to honour the debt the Nation owes to its Veterans by providing our Pensioners with the highest quality care and support that they rightly deserve.  For those of us on the staff here who have had the honour of serving in the Army alongside men and women like those who reside here at the Royal Hospital, it is an enormous privilege to work together with our colleagues here from every tradition, discipline and expertise to deliver that care in these unprecedented circumstances.

With my best wishes for your safety and good health, 

General Sir Adrian Bradshaw KCB OBE DL

Governor, the Royal Hospital Chelsea

Friday 3 April 2020

I trust this message finds you and your loved ones well, during these testing times. Life at the Royal Hospital has changed significantly as we have instigated the detailed measures that were planned well in advance to keep both the Chelsea Pensioners and our dedicated staff team safe and healthy. I am pleased to report that the Pensioners have adapted to the constraints on their normal way of life admirably, displaying the stoicism and humour for which they are renowned, and the staff have responded wonderfully to the need for many of them to leave home and work here full-time, and to countless other changes to their normal routines.

On Thursday morning, the Hospital was featured on BBC News channels, on TV and on the Today programme.  Whilst we were a little disappointed that the TV and radio pieces did not get an airing after about 0726 in the morning, they gave a very good insight into how staff and Pensioners alike are rising to the challenge that is affecting us all.  The Pensioners’ wisdom and experience of adversity shone through, as did their famed good humour – and I think we’re all invited to the after party!  I know that not everyone follows the news in these bleak days, and it may have been too early for others, but you can catch up on all of the broadcasts through the links below. 

As our Pensioners have recognised, we are fighting an invisible enemy. Our Veterans were prepared to put their lives on the line to serve their country, and we are all committed to do everything possible to protect them from the ever-present risk of infection, and to care for those who do fall ill to the very best of our abilities. We are extremely grateful for all your support. Thank you.  click ‘play’ and move cursor to 1 hr 2 click ‘play’ and move cursor to 1 hr 25

With my best wishes for your safety and good health,

General Sir Adrian Bradshaw KCB OBE DL

Governor, the Royal Hospital Chelsea

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