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Home for Christmas
Parish based charity first Alms House recognition
by Jeff Hathaway

FRIDAY 14th November witnessed an historic moment when Jersey's first Alms House was recognised by the National Association of Almshouses, with a certificate presented to the 'Love Thy Neighbour' Charity founded by Parish resident Colin Taylor.

The presentation of the certificate was made by Julian Marczak, Deputy Director of the The National Association of Almshouses at a special event held at St. Brelade Parish Hall attended by Chief Minister Ian Gorst, Assistant Chief Minister Paul Routier MBE, Constable's Steve Pallett and John Refault, Parish Rector, the Reverend Mark Bond and around 60 parishioners.

Julian Marszak explained that Almshouses trace their history back to monastic times where the terms bedehouse, hospital, maison dieu, almshouse and others described the provision of accommodation for those in need. The first recorded Almshouse was founded by King Athelstan in York in the 10th Century, and the oldest still in existence is thought to be the Hospital of St. Oswald in Worcester that dates from circa 990.

By the middle of 1500s, there were about 800 mediaeval hospitals spread across the country but following the dissolution of the monasteries, only a handful remained, and these were re-founded on secular lines, and rebuilt in the new domestic collegiate style.

In 1946, at a meeting held in the Chapter House of Southwark Cathedral, representatives of London's almshouses formed a committee to safeguard the interests of almshouse buildings and in 1950, the National Association of Almshouses was born. The Association patron is HRH The Prince of Wales who writes on the Associations website: "Almshouses have been part of this country's life for many generations and they continue to play a crucial role today in providing accommodation for those in need throughout the United Kingdom." Mr Marczak also explained that it was the first time that a charity outside the UK had been accredited with membership and praised Colin Taylor for the work he had put in to make it a reality.

The Lieutenant Governor, Sir John McColl who was unable to attend due to a prior engagement, nonetheless sent an open letter which was read out by Mark Bond.

Colin Taylor told La Baguette:

"This is a very proud day for me. I am honoured to live in Jersey and to have had this opportunity to give something back to the community. The two St. Brelade Almshouses are already providing accommodation to needy families who can now enjoy their Christmas."

Picture.: Left to right: Colin Taylor, Rev. Mark Bond, Julian Merczak

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