The Countess of Wessex is to open the Journalists’ Charity’s new £4m care home in Surrey this September.
The event will continue the Royal association with the charity, of which the Queen is Patron. The Queen Mother opened the original home in 1969, since when it has cared for many old and infirm journalists and their dependants.
The Countess will meet residents, staff, benefactors, architects, builders and trustees before the opening ceremony of the complex, which comprises Pickering House and Harmsworth House, named after ‘Pick of Fleet Street’Sir Edward Pickering and the Harmsworth family, who have been long time supporters of the charity (formerly the Newspaper Press Fund).
The new home replaces Sandy Cross, the original home, which did not meet modern standards.
Pickering House has 20 bedrooms, all with en suite showers, arranged in three wings. A dining room, bar and library are in the central part of the building and there is a chapel, a hairdressing salon, a gym and an activities room as well as extensive, landscaped grounds.
The Dorking home is close to Ribblesdale, the charity’s sheltered housing community, which has eight bungalows and 14 flats.
Charity chairman Robert Warren said: ‘We are absolutely delighted that the Countess has accepted our invitation to open the new home.
‘It will mark a great step forward in the 147-year history of the charity, and our next task is to raise the money to pay for it. It will be a ticket-only event but there will be an open day later in the year.”