News story

HRH The Duchess of Gloucester unveils plaque at home for ex-service personnel in Belfast

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Details of the Royal visit to commemorate the opening of the new accommodation block at the Somme Nursing Home, Belfast.

HRH The Duchess of Gloucester today visited the Somme Nursing Home, Belfast, to commemorate the official opening of the new accommodation block.

The Somme Nursing Home is a charity established in 1914 to provide treatment and care for service and ex-service personnel. The extended and refurbished Somme Hospital was opened on its original site in September 1992 and the name changed in 1995 to the Somme Nursing Home. Today it is a 40 bed establishment catering solely for ex-Servicemen/women and their spouses, including the Merchant Navy and ex-police officers. The current renovation, refurbishment and modernisation includes en-suite bedrooms, enhanced seating and communal areas. The home is supported by the three Armed Service Benevolent Funds and by the Irish Ex-Servicemen’s Trust.

Upon arrival HRH was greeted by the Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast, Dame Mary Peters DBE.

Moving inside the building, HRH met a number of residents, their family members and carers in the Bates Lounge.

Proceeding through the Memorial Garden to the new accommodation block, HRH met residents Dr John Weaver and Ms Jean Meharg and their family members in their rooms.

Later in the marquee HRH met the Somme Nursing Home Board Members and a group of invited guests, including a number of residents and their family members. Background music was provided by the Sepon String Quartet.

Colonel Elder said a few words of thanks and invited HRH to unveil a plaque to commemorate the official opening of the new accommodation block.

Prior to departure HRH was invited to sign the visitors’ book and was presented with a posy by Sophia Cochrane aged 6 and her sister Julia aged 3. The children are the granddaughters of the past Chairman of the Board, Commander Keith Cochrane.

Notes to Editors

Upon arrival HRH was greeted by the Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast, Dame Mary Peters DBE and went on to meet:

Alderman Ruth Patterson, The Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast

Dr Ian Adamson OBE, Sheriff for the County Borough of Belfast

Mr Peter McNaney, Chief Executive, Belfast City Council

Mr Edwin Poots MLA, Minister, Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety

Colonel (Retd) Mervyn Elder MBE TD JP DL, Chairman, Board of the Somme Nursing Home

Mrs Florence Cowan, Matron, Somme Nursing Home