Duke opens home for older people after £4.5m revamp

Craven Herald: The Duke chats to resident Sheila Cowell The Duke chats to resident Sheila Cowell

The Duke of Devonshire cut the ribbon to open a state-of-the-art housing facility for older people in Skipton.

An estimated 100 people attended the opening ceremony at Woodlands Abbeyfield House on Thursday.

Among them were three long-standing residents Cynthia Heywood, Hugh Walker and Freda Tickner, who lived at Woodlands for many years before its recent development.

Woodlands was originally opened in 1980 by a group of Skipton volunteers who formed the Abbeyfield Skipton Society.

The charity housed up to eight older people for more than 30 years before the local volunteers identified a growing need for quality housing for the area’s older people, which drove the £4.5 million development of the now-enlarged Woodlands Abbeyfield House.

“This has been a real local initiative,” said Michael Lovitt, one of Abbeyfield’s volunteers in Skipton. “It is only through the drive and vision of so many local people that this place is now a reality. I think everyone in Skipton can be proud of what has been achieved.”

John Robinson, chairman of The Abbeyfield Society and himself a Yorkshireman, said: “Without this determined band of Skipton volunteers this wonderful development would never have got off the ground.

“We aren’t just talking about a place to live, this is a supportive community which allows older people to live their lives to the full. Woodlands House isn’t just a flagship for Abbeyfield, it stands out in the UK nationally as a model for how great older people’s housing can be. I am incredibly proud that Yorkshire is leading the way.”

Abdul A Ravat, area manager at the Homes and Communities Agency, said: “These 31 homes show what we can achieve working in partnership.

“Our investment of £755,000 has made a real difference, but together with investment from Abbeyfield and a £950,000 grant from North Yorkshire County Council we have been able to make a real difference providing independent living for older people in the Skipton area.”

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