Registered Office: 020 8481 7676       Solihull: 0121 711 6330       Surbiton: 020 8339 5100

Our History

The Past

The Star & Garter Home in Richmond opened its doors to the first residents on 14 January 1916, under the auspices of the British Red Cross Society, to care for the severely disabled young men returning from the battlegrounds of the First World War.

In 1915, Queen Mary expressed concern for the future of these men and charged the British Red Cross Society with the task of finding a ‘permanent haven’ for them. The Auctioneers & Estate Agents Institute raised funds to purchase the old Star & Garter Hotel on Richmond Hill, handing the deeds to Queen Mary, who entrusted the building to the British Red Cross Society.

It soon became apparent that the hotel was not suitable for the planned development. The solution was to demolish the hotel and build a purpose-built Home, for which funds were raised by the British Women’s Hospital Committee. Consequently, when the Home opened its doors to the first ten residents on 14 January 1916, temporary accommodation was provided in the pavilion annexe.

In July 1919, Enbrook House, near Sandgate, Kent, was purchased to provide respite for the veterans. It became known as ‘The Seaside Branch’ and the residents from Richmond, now numbering 70, were moved there while the new Home was being built. The new Richmond Home welcomed residents back from Sandgate in October 1924.

During the Second World War, the Home became a haven for a new generation of injured soldiers, sailors and airmen. These young men looked to staff and their older peers for guidance in facing a life of disability. In addition to nursing and therapeutic care, the Charity offered training in skills such as crafts and finance to promote independence. This ethos continues in the care provided today.

In the late 1940s, a special paraplegic ward was established under the direction of Dr Ludwig Guttmann, founder of Stoke Mandeville Hospital. Guttmann used pioneering techniques to get patients moving. Believing that sport contributed profoundly to the mental well-being of his patients, he introduced archery and billiards, which could be played from a wheelchair. In 1948, Guttmann launched the Stoke Mandeville Games with an archery competition between Stoke Mandeville and the Star & Garter team, which the latter won in 1948 and in 1949. This was the first recorded competition between disabled athletes and was the forerunner to the Paralympic Games. Guttmann also promoted intensive physiotherapy at the Home and had a gym (the ‘torture chamber’) installed in the basement.

Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra became the Home’s new President in July 1964, following the death of Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke. The Princess maintains a keen interest in the Charity and frequently visits the Homes, where she always finds time to chat to residents and staff. In 2014, the Princess celebrated 50 years as President.

After a visit from Her Majesty The Queen in 1979, the Charity was given the working title ‘The Royal Star and Garter Home for Disabled Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’. In 1990, the Charity was granted a Royal Charter and Her Majesty The Queen commanded that it would be known as ‘The Royal Star and Garter Home for Disabled Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’. Following the decision to develop three new state-of-the-art Care Homes to replace the Richmond Home, the Royal Charter was amended in 2007 and the name was changed to ‘The Royal Star & Garter Homes’.

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The Present

In 1916, the average age of the young ex-Servicemen was 22. However, with today’s emphasis on care in the community, residents are coming to the Charity much later in life and the average age is now 88. This age profile reinforces the need for 24-hour nursing, respite and specialist dementia care within a homely environment, whilst retaining strong military links.

Against this backdrop of increasing need and the mounting costs associated with operating within a single Grade II facility, the Charity embarked on an ambitious development programme to build three new state-of-the-art care homes around the country, where residents can be cared for closer to their families. The Richmond Home had offered comfort and care to generations of disabled veterans. However, its lofty corridors and endlessly adapted spaces could no longer facilitate the levels of accommodation and care required in the 21st century. The Richmond building was sold in November 2014 and a new generation of modern, award-winning Homes now provides care appropriate for today’s veterans.

The first of these prestigious new Homes opened in Solihull, West Midlands, in the autumn of 2008 and has already established itself as a centre of excellence, achieving a Kitemark Level 1 from Dementia Care Matters autumn 2014, which the Home has retained following a second audit in 2015. The award-winning facilities at Solihull have been emulated at a new home in Surbiton, Surrey, which opened in August 2013 to accommodate the remaining residents from the Richmond Home. The Solihull Home was awarded the prestigious Pinder Healthcare Design Awards 2009 (Best Elderly Care, 60+ beds), and the Surbiton Home won Pinder’s Best Dementia Home (Small) award in 2014.

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