An important date to celebrate this month (besides Seniors Week) is the second annual “Abbeyfield Week”, which will be held June 8–15 in homes worldwide. In fact, there are more than 800 Abbeyfield homes and more than 9,000 residents in 17 countries.
The Abbeyfield movement began in 1956 when Major Richard Carr-Gomm resigned his commission with the British Army and bought a property at 50 Eugene Rd., South London for 250 pounds.
It was to provide housing for four people—the only qualification being loneliness. In 1987, Canada opened its first Abbeyfield house in Sidney, B.C. Today, there are 30 Abbeyfield houses in Canada.
And here in our community, the late Terry Whyte made possible the opening of the Port Alberni home. Now, under the leadership of Marlene Dietrich and an active board of directors, our local Abbeyfield provides accommodation to 21 residents.
One of those residents is Muriel Thompson, who is now the longest living resident of Abbeyfield. She has lived in this home for the past six and a half years. Mrs. Thompson, originally from Ontario, lived in California for several years with her husband, who passed away in 1985.
In 2003, Mrs. Thompson decided to move to Brentwood Bay on Vancouver Island to live with her daughter, and shortly after, to Port Alberni, where her second daughter lives.
“I decided to come here to be closer to my other daughter and to Abbeyfield because I felt lonely and depressed,” she says. “I have had no regrets, because this place satisfies my needs and allows me to have friends, be independent, keep busy, have my daughter coming to visit me regularly, and I have a large room with my own furniture.
“In other words, for me, it is a perfect place!”.
All these years since she first arrived, Mrs. Thompson has been actively involved in the life of Abbeyfield, not only socializing regularly with her peers but assisting others. She also oversaw the “Abbeyfield Convenience Store” when it was first opened.
And when the home’s first bus arrived, called at that time “the pride of Abbeyfield”, it was Muriel who was asked to do the christening of the vehicle, mainly for her enthusiastic endorsement of this means of transportation at Abbeyfield.