RAF charity seeks funds for retirement apartments in Rothbury

Rothbury House.Rothbury House.
Rothbury House.
An RAF veteran has said he would ‘jump for joy’ if funds can be raised for a planned retirement complex in Rothbury.

Tom Brown, 87, used to be a regular guest at Rothbury House before its doors as a respite hotel closed last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Widower Tom, who served with the RAF in Germany in the 1950s, said: “I made life-long friends in the RAF, and many of us met annually for group holidays. Now there are just three of us left, so it would be marvellous to live among other people who served in the air force.”

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Tom, who has survived cancer twice in recent years, said: ““If I could live permanently at Rothbury House, I’d jump for joy!”

RAF veteran Tom Brown.RAF veteran Tom Brown.
RAF veteran Tom Brown.

The Royal Air Forces Association, which supports serving and ex-RAF personnel and their families, is converting its former hotel into 26 retirement apartments.

An initial appeal led to half of the £500,000 transformation cost being raised from Association members and grant-making trusts, allowing building work to start.

Now veterans are asking members of the public to join in to get the project over the line.

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Work to provide half of the 26 new apartments planned for Rothbury House began in the summer, and it is hoped the first residents will be able to move in by the spring.

Tom, who lived in Cornwall for 18 years before moving to County Durham in 2010, added: “It would be wonderful if people could donate to the RAF Association’s appeal, and help me and other veterans to have a happier retirement.”

The RAF Association’s director of welfare and policy, Rory O’Connor, said research showed an urgent need for more good quality affordable retirement accommodation for veterans and their spouses.

He said: “With an estimated 40% of RAF veterans living alone, we know that, tragically, isolation and loneliness is a huge problem. We want to offer more people the opportunity to relive the camaraderie of their time in the RAF, and Rothbury House would be perfect for that.”

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Rory praised the generosity of the appeal’s supporters so far, with several RAF Association branches, including Alnwick, giving significant sums.

To donate to the RAF Association’s Building Futures appeal, please visit buildingfutures.rafa.org.uk or call 0800 018 2361.