Friday, 26 April 2013

Running the London Marathon for the Chelsea Pensioners' Appeal - by Sharon Cairney

The friend who supported me at mile thirteen and again at mile twenty three of the 2013 London Marathon was the reason I got excited about running. Tania ran the London Marathon in 2008 and inspired me to run, with her enthusiasm about being a part of what many say is the greatest marathon in the world. 

My application was unsuccessful four years in a row until October 2012, when I received my much wanted ‘Congratulations’ magazine. Training began that October with three weeks of running/walking then I started a twenty six week programme which would bring me up to race day. Everything went pretty much to plan until late February when I was constantly tired and even the smallest run was hard work. A blood donor session two weeks earlier had showed I was low in iron so I couldn’t donate. Further GP tests showed I needed an iron supplement. A week away on holiday meant I was then almost three weeks behind in training. I didn’t manage the peak run of twenty miles as I had included hills that even cars struggled with! The bitter icy cold wind that day meant I only completed seventeen miles. Despite all of this I told myself that I was still ready for the 26.2 miles and was strong enough to push out nine more miles on the day. A three week taper stage meant there was no more time to try the twenty miles again so I concentrated on strength training.

Race day was the most incredible experience from leaving the Royal Hospital Chelsea, getting the tube with other runners to crossing the finishing line. The crowds on route were nothing like I ever expected as the ENTIRE route had people cheering, playing music and very importantly, handing out jelly babies! Every time someone called out my name, which was on my vest, I had a big smile and a wave for them. The ever cheering crowds around the last mile got my wobbly lip and tears. It was so emotional knowing I was about to finish the London Marathon. I broke down the second I stepped onto the finishing mat and had a few tears wearing my medal proudly around my neck.

A short walk back to the Royal Hospital Chelsea brought me to Eric, my Nana’s cousin who is a Chelsea Pensioner, and my son Dan. Eric was the reason I chose to run for the 'Chelsea Pensioners’ Appeal’. My husband and I visited Eric for the first time last August and were blown away with the surroundings and feel of the Hospital. Eric proudly showed us his home and invited us to dine with him and the other Chelsea Pensioners in the Great Hall. Here we found out the true meaning of comradeship as our treasured veterans sat side by side at ease.

The Royal Hospital Chelsea will forever more be a special place to my family and we look forward to a visit again this summer. 

If you would like to sponsor Sharon you can do so here

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Friday, 19 April 2013

Something for the Weekend - Chelsea Pensioner Dorothy Hughes' recipe for Welsh Cakes

It's Friday at last!

If you're looking for something tasty to cook over the weekend, why not try Dorothy's recipe for Welsh Cakes?

Dorothy Hughes was one of the first female Chelsea Pensioners to reside at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, arriving in 2009.

8 oz self raising flour
4 oz butter
3 oz castor sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 oz sultanas
1 oz mixed peel
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 large egg
Small quantity of milk if mix is too dry
Small amount of flour for rolling out mixture

1. Put flour, butter, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon into food mixer and mix well.

2. Add the beaten egg with the lemon juice.

3. Mix until it forms a cake-like consistency.

4. Pulse in the fruit.

5. Turn out onto a lightly-floured pastry board and roll out to 1/2 inch thickness.

6. Cut into 2 1/2 inch circles.

7. Put a lightly greased griddle or very heavy frying pan over a very low heat.

8. Brown the cakes on one side for about 2 minutes then turn them over and repeat the process.

9. Place on a wire tray to cool, then dust with icing sugar

This quantity makes about 20 cakes and you can store them for 1-2 weeks.

This recipe is taken from the Salute to Cooking recipe book which was published to raise money for the Chelsea Pensioners' Appeal. You can buy a copy here.

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Friday, 12 April 2013

A Photographic Tribute to Baroness Thatcher

Since 2002, Baroness Thatcher has been a very strong supporter of the Royal Hospital Chelsea and its charity, the Chelsea Pensioners' Appeal. 

All at the Royal Hospital were deeply saddened to hear of her passing and touched that her family requested donations to the Chelsea Pensioners' Appeal rather than flowers. 

Lady Thatcher visiting the Chelsea Pensioners
during the build of the Margaret Thatcher Infirmary

Lady Thatcher at the opening of the
Margaret Thatcher Infirmary in April 2009

Lady Thatcher at the launch of the
Salute to Cooking book on her birthday in 2009

If you would like to make a donation to the Chelsea Pensioners' Appeal in support of Baroness Thatcher you can do so here.

Over the centuries, the Royal Hospital Chelsea has faithfully delivered Charles II’s vision of retirement living to thousands of veteran soldiers. The Royal Hospital Chelsea is not owned by the state and thus cares for, maintains and modernises its unique historic environment through our own efforts and those of our supporters.

Today, the Royal Hospital Chelsea is recognised internationally as exemplary in promoting a fitting home for veterans. Chelsea Pensioners find friendship, compassion and professional support in a unique and historic setting.

To sustain this unparalleled community in the 21st century and beyond, the Royal Hospital Chelsea completed the building of the Margaret Thatcher Infirmary in 2009 and has now embarked on a project to refurbish the Chelsea Pensioners’ living quarters, known as Long Wards, and other welfare facilities. 

Money from the Appeal goes towards the day-to-day running costs of the Royal Hospital and any capital projects, such as the building of the Margaret Thatcher Infirmary in 2009 which cost £27.5 million.

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Tuesday, 2 April 2013

RHC Open the 2013 London English Song Festival - by William Vann

Hope you all had a lovely Easter!

The dates have now been announced for the 2013 London English Song Festival and the Royal Hospital Chelsea Chapel Choir will be opening the series on Thursday 2nd May with a rare treat as they perform some of the most outstanding secular choral music written in the beautiful Wren Chapel.

Benjamin Britten's five Flower Songs are some of the finest examples of 20th century choral writing, beginning with a setting of Herrick's wonderful poem To Daffodils and ending with a flourish as the words to the tongue-twisting song Green Broom are repeated over and over again. The timing of this performance is very apt, with the Chelsea Flower Show opening at the Royal Hospital Chelsea very soon afterwards.

The Margaret Thatcher Infirmary surrounded by Daffodils
These works will be performed alongside part-songs, folk-songs and madrigals. The Renaissance period was the peak of madrigal writing in England under composers such as Orlando Gibbons, John Farmer, John Bennet, Thomas Morley and John Wilbye, and some of their greatest works appear in the concert, from Gibbons' melancholic The Silver Swan to Morley's appropriate and joyful Now is the month of maying.

After some quieter years, secular choral music in England underwent a revival among the Victorian-era composers, and the works of Hubert Parry, Robert Pearsall, Charles Villiers Stanford, Arthur Sullivan and Charles Wood have entered the canon of the favourite part-songs. Stanford's The Bluebird is a particular gem with its soprano solo hovering over the alto, tenor and bass-voices below. Finally, the folk-song revival under Vaughan Williams led to some of his most sumptuous work, and his arrangement of the Turtle Dove will also be performed.

We must hope that May brings better weather than so far in 2013 but, regardless, if you attend on the 2nd May, we will enjoy an hour of stunning choral music, followed by a glass of something thoroughly refreshing in the Figure Court of the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

Tickets are £14 in advance (£11 for concessions and Friends) or £15 on the door (£12 for concessions and Friends).

If you would like to buy tickets to the performance at the Royal Hospital please visit our website. If you are eligible for a concession or Friends discount, please call us on 020 7881 5324 or email

You can also find out more about the London English Song Festival.

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