Princess Alexandra heard the stories of veterans and toured the “extremely impressive” new Royal Star & Garter facility when she officially opened their High Wycombe home Thursday.
The charity provides compassionate care to veterans and their partners living with disability or dementia, and Princess Alexandra has served as president of Royal Star & Garter since 1964.
After a warm welcome by the Queen’s Colour Squadron with music from the Central Band of The Royal Air Force, the Princess was taken on a tour of the state-of-the-art home by the charity’s Chief Executive, Andy Cole and Chairman Major General Tim Tyler, as well as the Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire, Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher, and the property’s home manager, Chelle Daly.
The £25 million High Wycombe facility includes specialist dementia care, a library, activities room and in-house physiotherapy. The Princess got to see the services provided first-hand when she stopped in to watch residents take part in pizza-making and still-life sketching sessions.
“It is an extremely impressive new addition to the charity,” Princess Alexandra said after revealing a plaque officially opening the home.
“May I offer my congratulations to all those involved in its conception, construction and opening, which has been a huge task over many years. I’m sure that the residents will enjoy all the excellent facilities available in what is most importantly, their home. I wish all the staff and volunteers well in this wonderful new building and look forward to the charity opening more homes and services for the veterans in the future.”
Amongst the residents Princess Alexandra met were 101-year-old Geoff Smith, who fought in Burma during the Second World War, and John Walmsley, a former Grenadier Guard who took part in The Queen’s coronation in 1953.
She also heard the stories of other residents, relatives, nurses, carers and physiotherapy staff and received a posy from 101-year-old Ena Mitchell, whose husband Bill was killed in action in Belgium in 1944.
In addition to older veterans, the Princess met someone with ties to Prince Harry’s Invictus Games when she spoke with athlete Luke Delahunty, an RAF veteran from nearby Aylesbury who represented the UK twice in hand cycling and rowing.
“It’s been a really special day,” he said. “The facilities here are great and the home is really impressive. It’s great to meet so many veterans. The military connection we all share never goes.”