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Village hospital given a brand new lease of life

By UttoxeterPostandTimes.3522974.UttoxeterPostandTimes  |  Posted: March 16, 2014

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A HOSPITAL serving residents in a village near Uttoxeter has been given a brand new modern look after a £500,000 investment.

Abbots Bromley Hospital has undergone the refurbishment with the help of a loan from Charity Bank as well as trustees and grants.

The hospital was built in 1705 in Abbots Bromley, with a bequest by local landowner Lambard Bagot.

Originally, the six residents were elderly men and they were given a quarterly allowance and, every two years a new coat, supposedly with LB embroidered on the pocket.

The almshouses, which are Grade II listed, continue to support men and women in reduced circumstances, with a focus on helping those with a connection to Abbots Bromley.

Mithra Tonking, chairman of the Abbots Bromley Hospital Trustees, said: “We doubt if a traditional bank would have been able to provide either the loan or the bridging facility because they just aren’t geared up to comprehend this very specialised housing sector.”

The almshouse accommodation was in considerable need of modernisation and the trustees decided to extend and modernise the existing listed building to create four one-bed room units and two two-bed homes. Proposed work included the creation of additional space, damp-proofing, replastering, insulation, new kitchens and bathrooms, the installation of central heating and extensive redecoration.

This left the trustees with the challenge of raising the money needed to complete the project which was calculated to cost more than £500,000.

They were able to fund almost £200,000 from reserves and were offered grants of £140,000.

The Almshouse Association also approved a £50,000 loan but this left a shortfall of more than £118,000.

To add to the problem, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) grant of £120,000 was payable only after completion of the refurbishment, and so Abbots Bromley Hospital also needed to cover additional refurbishment costs to that value in the short-term.

The Almshouse Association introduced Abbots Bromley Hospital to Charity Bank, which was able to approve a 15-year loan of £118,000 plus a six-month bridging loan of £120,000 until the HCA grant was payable.

The Charity Bank is a bank with a mission to attract share capital from social investors, take savings from socially conscious individuals and lend solely to social purpose organisations.

As a result of its aims it hopes to be the most admired bank in the UK through the increased positive social impact that its borrowers can make.

Mike Lewis, vice-chairman of the Abbots Bromley Hospital Trustees, said: “People often think of almshouses as being part of history but there are still 1,700 almshouse charities providing housing in the UK.

“Our houses are an example of how Abbots Bromley supports local people, so it was important that we modernised them.”

Peter Hughes, Charity Bank’s regional lending manager for the Midlands and East of England, said the bank was pleased to be able to support the work to improve the almshouses in the village.

He added: “We have supported around 30 almshouses across the country, and so the expertise that the bank has built up is unrivalled.

“Almshouses continue to provide an essential community service, and it important that they can get the funding they need to ensure that they offer good contemporary and safe accommodation for their residents.”

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