MHA celebrates 70 years
Caring Times, June 2013Dame Judi Dench and Baroness Joan Bakewell were among the luminaries who sent personal congratulations when leading charitable care provider MHA went platinum in April.
Methodist Homes (MHA) held a commemorative service in Coventry Cathedral to mark its Platinum Anniversary – 70 years since its inception. Led by MHA’s Director – Chaplaincy and Spirituality, Revd Dr Keith Albans, the service covered an account of MHA’s history, hymns and readings. Guests of honour included MHA Patron, Baroness Kathleen Richardson and Methodist Conference Vice President Michael King.
In her message to the charity, Dame Judi offered her congratulations and said, “Everyone involved does an amazing job and I thank you all for your dedication.” Baroness Bakewell called MHA “a shining light for the rest of us”, adding, “Their long tradition of compassionate care for the old is something that should be copied across this country’s care sector.”
Other messages of support came from Tony Robinson, Sir Alan Ayckbourn, John Suchet, Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu and Songs of Praise presenter Pam Rhodes, who is an MHA Patron.
MHA Patron, Baroness Kathleen Richardson, was the preacher, telling the 500-strong congregation, “MHA does not become diminished by age. It grows and strengthens, constantly renewed by new thoughts, new people, new ideas, new initiatives.”
The story of MHA was told by people with a special connection to MHA’s history. These included Rev Stephen Wigley, District Chair and son of MHA’s past CEO David Wigley, Susan Howdle, a previous Chair of MHA’s Charity Board and Rev Fred Connell, Anglican priest and son of MHA’s past General Secretary, Rev Richard Connell.
They told the gathering: “We look to celebrate older age – valuing its wisdom and experience, and sharing those insights with others. MHA’s work on end of life care reflects an aspect of care and support which is all too often overlooked, but which epitomises that original vision of the founders – improving the quality of life for older people, inspired by Christian concern.”
They went on to express the importance of MHA’s work for older people in times of austerity, and highlighting its additional services such as music therapy and chaplaincy, to promote person-centred care.
MHA was founded by the Methodist Conference in 1943. Its founding committee comprised Revd Walter Hall (Secretary and Founder), Hilda Bartlett Lang (Treasurer and daughter of the famous philanthropist Joseph Rank) and Sir George Martin (Chairman). Its first home, Ryelands in Wallington, opened in 1945.
It now has over 90 homes, more than 60 Retirement Living communities and more than 70 Live at Home Schemes which offer social opportunities and practical support to older people living in their own homes. There is also Auchlochan Garden Village, a retirement community in South Lanarkshire, Scotland. Further projects in development include The Fairways Retirement Village in Chippenham and Hatherlow House in Southport, for couples where one partner has dementia.