Society sells off 'flagship' care home to fund development plans

Perennial - Gardeners' Royal Benevolent Society will sell Red Oaks, its residential home, as it focuses on redefining its role in the industry's support sector

Retired gardeners have lost their specialist residential care home after garden charity Perennial — The Gardeners’ Royal Benevolent Society decided to sell its “flagship” premises in a deal thought to be worth a seven-figure sum. Barchester Healthcare, which owns 50 care homes in the UK, will take over 52-bed Red Oaks, in Henfield, near Brighton, later this month. Perennial has reserved more than £1 million to care for the remaining 24 Red Oaks residents with horticultural backgrounds, leaving “approximately £1 million left to develop our work with horticulturists in need”. The society was founded in 1839 to “provide assistance to disabled and retired gardeners and other workers in the horticulture industry and their partners by way of benefits, grants, holidays, sheltered and residential accommodation, support and advice”. Perennial, which helps 800 horticulturists annually, has spent “considerable sums” rebranding itself and rebuilding the home. However, trustees decided to sell as the number of elderly gardeners in the home fell below half of all residents and losses on the home reached £500,000 a year. Perennial says elderly gardeners often now prefer to stay in care homes local to their families rather than move to Red Oaks. The chief executive of the Surrey-based charity, Richard Capewell, said: “Parting with Red Oaks is an extremely sad occasion, however, our remit is helping horticulturists in need and we are in danger of moving away from that objective with this care home.” Perennial director of marketing and fundraising Janet Wickens said Perennial regretted making the sale. “For many years Red Oaks stood as our flagship,” she said. “It was the only thing people could see we did and was part of our history.”

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