Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Gloucester visited Merlewood Care Home in Virginia Water last Wednesday, the inaugural home of national poverty charity Turn2us, to mark the charity’s 125th anniversary.
While visiting Merlewood, Her Royal Highness met staff and residents as well as senior team members from Elizabeth Finn Homes and Turn2us. The Duchess enjoyed a special musical performance by singer Lucy Jesse, before chatting to residents over afternoon tea and officially marking the event by cutting the 125th Anniversary cake.
The Duchess has been a long-standing supporter of Turn2us, becoming Patron of the charity in 2003. Turn2us was founded by Elizabeth Finn in 1897 to help people in poverty. Today, the charity continues to offer vital, practical information and support to people facing financial insecurity. To mark its 125th year of tackling poverty, the charity has launched a campaign to ask ‘How Many More’ to highlight the need for long-term change to catch people before they fall into financial crisis.
Merlewood Care Home is owned and operated by Elizabeth Finn Care, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Turn2us. It is one of nine residences that provide permanent and short stay care, as well as end of life care.
Following World War II, there was a shortage of care homes for older people and the charity purchased the handsome Victorian mansion Merlewood as its first home. Set in 23 acres of grounds overlooking the Surrey Hills, Merlewood now offers 53 en-suite rooms for residents on a permanent or respite basis, providing exception levels of comfort and care.
During her time as Patron, The Duchess of Gloucester has attended multiple care home openings and remains in regular contact with the charity on its activities.
Also in attendance at today’s event were His Honour Christopher Critchlow, High Sheriff of Surrey, Helyn Clack, Chair of Surrey County Council, Margaret Harnden, Mayor of Runnymead and Ben Spencer, MP for Virginia Water.
Jonathan Crisp, Interim CEO of Elizabeth Finn Homes commented:
“As the Patron of Turn2us, The Duchess of Gloucester has long supported our homes and the great work that they do. I am delighted to welcome Her Royal Highness today to help us mark this great milestone, our founder Elizabeth Finn and all that has been achieved since the opening of Merlewood in 1948.”
The charity was formed in 1897 when Elizabeth Finn, a pioneering 72 year old woman, founded the Distressed Gentlefolks’ Aid Association, originally based in her London home. By the time she died in 1921 it was firmly established as a vital source of support for people in poverty across the UK and Ireland.