Olympic gold medalist opens specialist housing facility

Olympic gold medalist Helene Raynsford has opened a new Housing 21 housing scheme for people with dementia and adults with learning disabilities.

Helene, who is Locality Public Health Lead at NHS Berkshire West, joined guests at the new Beeches Manor in Reading Road, Wokingham for the celebration.

The £3.8 million scheme will provide 26 purpose-built rented apartments, 18 for people with dementia on the ground floor and eight for people with learning disabilities on the first floor. The unique design draws on best practice principals, with apartments designed for independent living clustered around two central courtyards.  Communal facilities include a lounge, kitchen and dining area and activity/hobby rooms. Beeches Manor also features assistive technology solutions.

Helene Raynsford, who achieved her gold medal in rowing in the Paralympics in Beijing in 2008, said: “I am very honoured to be asked to open Beeches Manor. With appropriate housing those with dementia and learning disabilities can have a safe and supported, where needed, place to call home and enjoy an active engagement with the wider community. Beeches Manor will be a great new addition to the housing on offer from Wokingham Borough Council and I am looking forward to meeting the new residents.”

Beeches Manor was built in a partnership between Housing 21, Wokingham Borough Council, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), Willmott Dixon and Quattro Design Architects.

Simon Bostock, Regional Operations Director for Housing 21 said: “We’re extremely proud of Beeches Manor. Vulnerable local people will benefit from living independently in modern, high quality apartments. Those with dementia will also have the security that comes with extra care housing, so they will enjoy on-site care which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Andy Couldrick, Interim Chief Executive for Wokingham Borough Council said: “We are very excited to see Beeches Manor now complete.  This innovative scheme will provide much more than bricks and mortar, it will provide vulnerable people with modern, high quality homes together with on-site care and support.”

Guests at the official opening had the opportunity to look around the scheme before the residents start to move in. As well as providing staff accommodation, Beeches Manor also has two further guest rooms for the use of visiting relatives or friends.

John Frankiewicz, CEO of Willmott Dixon Capital Works said: “It’s fitting that in the year of the London Olympics we have an Olympic champion opening this scheme that will provide highly specialised facilities to enhance the quality of living for many vulnerable people. We are all very proud of Beeches Manor.” 

The project, a Wokingham Borough Council initiative, has received £1.8M investment from the Homes and Communities Agency.