On Monday 30 September, Princess Marina House, affectionately known as PMH, celebrated its 50th birthday with a special party.
Throughout the day guests enjoyed a range of entertainment and activities starting with an RAF themed cake decoration, followed by a Glider competition, fish and chips for lunch and a variety show by The Not Forgotten Association. Preparations for the party began on Sunday for guests staying at PMH where they were invited to hand-paint their planes ahead of the games on the Monday morning.
RAF veteran Roy Windsor was crowned winner of Glider competition after landing his plane at the heart of the Fund's roundel. When asked about his stay at PMH, Roy said: "The staff here are lovely and I very much enjoyed my stay and the celebrations."
The Fund was delighted to welcome a very special guest to mark PMH's milestone, 93-year-old D-Day RAF veteran William Bennett. William served in the RAF during World War Two aged 17 and celebrated his 18th birthday on the front line. Willian and his daughter Carole were visiting PMH for the third time this year.
In 2011, William lost his wife after being married for 63 years.
Carole said: "We have always lived together as a family. After my mother passed away, my sister, June, was the one who took care of us because we both have care needs.
"We lost my sister to cancer in February last year when she was 66-years-old and ever since we’ve found comfort in PMH.
"It's been a lifeline because I have only my father and we have been falling through the net, but the Fund stepped in to help us and also offered us a two-week stay at PMH. They treat you like royalty. What more could you possibly want?
"We wish we could live here permanently, and my father kept saying in January 'I just wish we could move here'. Everyone is so kind, I can't even describe it. I just can't believe how nothing is too much trouble from top to bottom. “When we arrived, they took our luggage from the taxi and there were six nurses to welcome us. We were so overwhelmed and filled with joy."
Catherine Argent, Deputy Manager at Princess Marina House, said: "There is a little bit of magic about PMH and I love working here and for the Fund."
Catherine's father, who served in the RAF at RAF Halton, was once the General Manager at PMH with her mother Jennifer Goodman at his side.
"I have worked at Princess Marina House since 1991,” said Catherine. “I started as Housekeeper and now find myself in the role of Deputy General Manager.
"It is amazing to see the change in people within a few hours of walking through the door. It is their second home and we are their second family."
General Manager Tania Carter said: “Our centenary street party has been a wonderful way to involve our guests in the centenary celebrations of the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund. It has been lovely to spend time with the guests enjoying the entertainment, fish and chips and ice creams.
"Princess Marina House is a very special place where people can relax and enjoy themselves allowing them to forget their daily troubles and be thoroughly spoilt.
"I am extremely proud of the whole team who have worked together to organise this event and to ensure that everyone had a great time."
Princess Marina House is our centre in Rustington for respite and care breaks for serving and former RAF personnel. Our guests can enjoy a relaxing break in one of the 'hotel style' rooms knowing that should they or their partner require care, PMH’s highly skilled staff will be able to provide it.
PMH is staffed with expert carers 24 hours a day and is fully wheelchair accessible throughout the home and garden, including two lifts serving the first floor.