Friday, 22 October 2021

Memorial garden for man who led £2m home appeal

A NEW garden has been opened at the Watlington and District Nursing Home in memory of a former

A NEW garden has been opened at the Watlington and District Nursing Home in memory of a former chairman of trustees.

Charles Farrell, who died last year, aged 96, was instrumental in establishing the Hill Road home.

His widow Lady Katherine was among the invited guests at a reception to mark the formal opening of the orangery garden on Friday and she unveiled a memorial plaque to her husband.

Others present included trustees of the Watlington Hospital Charitable Trust, which Mr Farrell chaired.

When the NHS closed Watlington Hospital in 2000 despite fierce local opposition, Mr Farrell was the driving force in the campaign to retain medical facilities for the area.

He set up the trust to raise £2million to buy the hospital site and negotiated with Sanctuary Care to build and run the new 60-bed nursing home providing nursing, dementia and intermediate care. He also fought opposition from South Oxfordshire District Council, which would have preferred to see housing on the site.

Watlington and District Nursing Home opened its doors on July 23, 2004 and a new GP surgery was included in the development.

The new garden includes a water feature, pathways, flower beds and a pergola and is easily accessible to the home’s residents. Speaking at the reception, trustee Sir Christopher Paine said: “Without the leadership, drive and determination of Charles Farrell, assisted by his co-trustees, this excellent nursing home would not exist.

“He achieved its purchase from the NHS and overcame planning obstacles.  He also led an appeal which raised £2million to ensure success.”

Stephen Rees, Sanctuary Care’s director of care operations, said: “The gardens are a lovely addition to our wonderful care home and I have no doubt our residents, friends and staff will enjoy spending time in them.

“Without Charles and the trust’s unwavering commitment to ensure the former hospital site continued to be used for the benefit of the community, we wouldn’t have our beautiful home so I’m pleased he has been remembered — it is a very fitting tribute.”

Earlier in his life, Mr Farrell had a prominent career in the armed forces. After being educated in northern England, he went to Christ Church College, Oxford, to read history but the war cut short his studies and he joined the 3rd Battalion of the Scots Guards.

He was the youngest major in the British forces and won an MC and was Mentioned in Despatches for the role he played as commander of his tank squadron in the 6th Tank Brigade in the Allied invasion.

His book Reflections, published in 2000, analysed the leadership and courage of troops at that time.

Mr Farrell was involved in the division of Eastern Europe after the victory in 1945.

He was later enlisted by MI6 and was stationed first in Singapore and then in Brussels.

In the late Fifties he left the Foreign Office to join British Sidac, where he quickly rose up the ranks and ended up as managing director.

The company was then a huge manufacturer of cellophane and he was proud to have built a joint plastics company with ICI at Wigton in Cumbria.

He later started Christie’s Contemporary Art, which grew to be a public company.

Mr Farrell also worked hard for local concerns as a county councillor and as a member of the Oxfordshire Health Authority during the Eighties.

He had four children, five grandchildren and a step family.

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