On 14 January 1916, the Charity’s Richmond Home opened its doors to care for the injured troops returning from the battlefields of the First World War. The average age of those men was 22.
Today we offer specialist care – with the same respect and compassion – to disabled veterans whose average age is 88 and who can no longer manage at home. One such resident is Army veteran Douglas Jakeman who lives with dementia at The Royal Star & Garter Homes.
A much-loved great-grandfather, Douglas has lived an incredible life. During the Second World War, he joined the 9th (Second City of London) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. His battalion saw active service in the Middle East (PAL Force), the African campaign against Rommel and the Italian campaign.
Douglas was captured at Salerno, Italy, in 1943. He was imprisoned at Stalag VIIIB 344 at Lamsdorf (Lambinowice) in Poland until 1945. Worse still, he was separated from the tank team he had trained and with whom he had spent most of the War. As Douglas describes it: “It was a horrible thing. I had my three lads. When we were caught, as an NCO I wasn’t allowed to be (imprisoned) with them, to avoid stirring them all up. I saw my three friends go away, looking at me as if to say ‘It’s all over’. I never saw them again.”
Douglas was unable to trace his team after the War. He settled down to civilian life with the courage shown by most of his generation. He now lives at The Royal Star & Garter Home in Surbiton, where he can receive the specialist care he needs and where is family visit him often.
Staff at the Charity have had the privilege of caring for brave veterans for the last 100 years. In the words of First World War veteran Horace Ham, who was a resident with the Charity until his death in 1995: “The Star & Garter is my home now. It’s a wonderful, wonderful place. I only hope, just as the Home was here for me when I needed it, it will be here in years to come for brave servicemen and women.”
Now caring for veterans of the Second World War and beyond, our services include award-winning dementia care in addition to the specialist nursing and therapeutic care we have always offered. A new generation of highly trained staff and modern, state-of-the-art Homes now fulfils the legacy of caring for the nation’s military family which began 100 years ago.
It remains the Charity’s mission to provide specialist therapeutic and nursing care to the nation’s military family for generations to come – just as Horace hoped.