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Retirement Room with a View

by Michael Ford last modified 19 Mar, 2019 02:41 PM

A Dorset based charity is now opening the doors of its free seaside retirement homes to retired female clergy as well as clergy widows.

More than 100 bereaved women, widows of clergy and military officers, have enjoyed rent- and council-tax-free accommodation in Weymouth since the foundation of the Home of Devenish in 1962, but the charity says it will now open its doors to retired women clergy and female military officers as well as to the two profession's widows.

Diana Ludlow, chair of Trust, who has provided short and long term accomodation in the past for the widows of clergy from this Diocese, said:
"Times change – in 2019, Reverend Peacock or Captain Scarlet is as likely to be a Cathy as a Clive. Now, the Home of Devenish wants to give back to the women who are doing it for themselves.

“We’ve been trying to get this change made for some time, and it’s brilliant that we can now offer our houses to these women who’ve given so much for their country.

“We’ve had women as young as 60 arrive, some still working, but some join us when they’re over 80,” said Diana.

“As long as they’re still independent, age is no barrier. We often find they get a second lease of life once they’re here. One of our women is an active member of the local sailing club and Coastwatch. Others simply enjoy the tranquility of our sites.”

The women who live in bungalows, some with views of Portland Harbour and Weymouth Bay and each with a generous-sized kitchen and living room, a spare bedroom for family or friends to visit, and a south-facing sun room, don’t have to pay any rent or council tax – and all house and garden maintenance is sorted by the charity. The tenants just have to bring their own furniture and pay for electricity.

The women themselves are enthusiastic about the homes. Patricia, who has been a resident for 29 years commented:
“We’re so well cared for. If something goes wrong, I don’t have to worry about it.”

While Eleanor, who has been a resident for eight years said:
“Honestly, we can’t believe our luck. Weymouth has lots of facilities. There’s something for all interests.” She joined Coastwatch when she arrived, and helps with Sailability. They all look out for each other and love the sense of community.

Amazingly, the charity, which has been operating since 1962, doesn’t have a waiting list right now.

“The hard part is getting the word out, and, unusually, we have five empty bungalows at the moment,” Diana Ludlow added.

“And we’re especially keen to let people know about this exciting change. Our first newly-qualifying resident, a retired woman vicar, has just been accepted and will be joining us soon. She becomes the 101st resident. It would be wonderful if we could help other women like her, too.”

Details on the trust and how to apply can be found here.

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