Plea to avert proposed Buckmaster House retirement home closure by reinstating independent management

Buckmaster House (image google maps)

Four Broadstairs residents say they have been trying to save the service at Buckmaster House residential home following notification last May that the site is being considered for closure.

The Western Esplanade site is run the Abbeyfield charity following a merger agreement in 2018 with Buckmaster Trustees that is understood to have included the transfer of a £500,000 reserve fund as well as the property.

Abbeyfield  is a charity for older people providing housing across the UK and internationally and owns over 400 houses in seven countries.

Members of a new Buckmaster Support Group say they want the Abbeyfield charity to relinquish control by reinstating the Buckmaster Memorial Home Charity.

Buckmaster group member John Jervis (pictured) said the group would be willing to take over the Buckmaster charity – which still exists but is now linked to Abbeyfield – but says conversations with the site owner have now ground to a halt.

He said: “We would very much like to preserve Buckmaster House as a service for Broadstairs. We have had long conversations with Abbeyfield but on Friday they told us that we have to give them a viable offer, ie lots of money, and they no longer wish to talk to us.

“Buckmaster House was run by an independent charity until 2018 but was then transferred to Abbeyfield. That included the home, the grounds and a reserve fund of £500,000.

“We want the Buckmaster charity delinked from Abbeyfield to resurrect the independent charity so the home can be managed as it had been for the last 130 years.”

Inside Buckmaster House

Buckmaster House was built in 1895, commissioned by Jane Buckmaster in memory of her husband Thomas Buckmaster, a Savile Row tailor in London.

The house was originally set up as a place for women in the Brixton area to stay for convalescence or come for a holiday. Over the years, the house has been restored and modernised to provide accommodation for people of retirement age.

Last May Abbeyfield told residents that, following a review, the decision had been made to consult on the site’s closure. At that time there were around 17 residents. Currently there are around six remaining at the property.

John says the group would be unable to offer “the millions” Abbeyfield may expect from a sale.

When the property was valued five years ago it was given a market price of £1.4 million.

John said: “They want to raise funds by the sale which would probably be used for operations elsewhere. We want to preserve the work of Buckmaster House. If Abbeyfield would keep it running through a charity or similar party then we could step away.

“Alternatively we would be willing to take over the delinked Buckmaster charity and manage it.”

‘Consultation ongoing’

An Abbeyfield spokesperson said there is no update on a statement previously issued in September.

At that time they said: “The consultation is still ongoing at Buckmaster House while we explore all potential alternative options in order to try and find a positive solution.

“We are in regular contact with residents and continue to keep them informed of developments and are moving the process as quickly as we can to minimise disruption and uncertainty.

“The national consultation is being run on a per-home basis, which means the length of the consultation for each home will depend on proposals and options discussed specific to the home in question.”

It is understood Buckmaster House was one of approximately 40 homes that were being considered for closure across the country.

Buckmaster House retirement home residents informed of consultation over proposed closure

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