The names of military heroes set to be immortalised at The Royal Star & Garter Home in High Wycombe have been announced, days before the first residents are welcomed.
The new £25 million veterans’ care home will feature floors named after Frank Adams, Anthony ‘Bugs’ Bendell OBE, Edward Brooks VC and Lettice Curtis.
They were chosen after members of the public put forward names of men and women with strong links to the military and the local area in The Royal Star & Garter Homes’ Who’s Your Hero? Competition. The charity, which cares for ex-servicemen and women and their partners who are living with disability or dementia, is keen to celebrate and remember their deeds at its new home.
A framed citation for each person will be placed on the floors, providing information as well as a photo.
The announcement comes days before the charity welcomes its first veterans into the 74-room home. Residents are expected to move into the home in April. A naming ceremony will take place at the home in May and will be attended by relatives of the four veterans being honoured.
The new home will provide nursing and therapeutic care as well as specialist dementia care.
The charity’s chairman, Major General Tim Tyler says: “We are just days away from opening this wonderful home, and it is a great honour to reveal the names of the veterans who will be commemorated here.
"These men and women served their country with courage and distinction. They are extraordinary and admirable models of military service with a close connection to the area and we are proud to be able to commemorate them this way. Their names will be used every day and live on in the home.”
Adams House is named after Frank Adams, a hugely influential figure in High Wycombe. He served in the Army and then the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War, and in the RAF following the outbreak of the Second World War. The ground floor will be named after him.
Frank is perhaps best known for his connection with Wycombe Wanderers Football Club (WWFC), who he played for and captained either side of the First World War. Following the Second World War, he purchased Loakes Park, the home ground of WWFC and handed over the deeds of the land in 1947. Frank was made patron, and its new stadium, which the club moved to in 1990, is named Adams Park after its benefactor.
The club remains in the family’s blood. Frank Adams' son, Jack Adams, was patron of Wycombe Wanderers. Granddaughter Karen Robinson is honorary president of Wycombe Wanderers Trust (owners of WWFC), honorary president and director of the Frank Adams Legacy Ltd, which own the stadium, and Trustee of Wycombe Wanderers Sports and Education Trust, the charitable arm of the club.
Mr Adams’ granddaughter, Karen Robinson says: “I am thrilled that Frank is being honoured by The Royal Star & Garter Homes, and my father Jack would have been so proud that Frank's war record is celebrated in this way.
"He was very much a Wycombe man and I imagine he would be very pleased to lend his name to the ground floor of the new home in High Wycombe. Wycombe Wanderers Football Club is excited by the recognition given to their hero, and representatives from the club will be joining me at the naming ceremony to celebrate the honour.”
Bendell House is named after Wing Commander Anthony ‘Bugs’ Bendell, who lived at the charity’s Richmond and then Surbiton homes. He was ranked among the RAF’s most skilled and talented pilots during the Cold War period. Bugs and his wife Jules were local to High Wycombe, and together they played an active part in life at the Surbiton Home and key events, such as the ground breaking ceremony for the High Wycombe Home. Bugs had hoped to be one of the first residents but sadly died in 2016. The first floor of the new home will be known as Bendell House.
Mr Bendell’s wife Jules remains a staunch supporter of the charity. After learning her husband was being honoured, she said, “We’re absolutely thrilled, this means his name will live in perpetuity. He was an amazing man, witty and funny. We are delighted that The Royal Star & Garter Homes is giving Bugs this honour. If he were alive, he would say: ‘Oh good, I’m going to High Wycombe at last!’”
Brooks House is named in honour of First World War hero Edward Brooks, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for “most conspicuous bravery” under enemy fire when he single handedly captured a German machine gun post firing on the infantry troops in trenches near Fayet, France, on 28 April 1917. His VC citation read that “he undoubtedly prevented many casualties.”
Edward was born in Oakley, Buckinghamshire and went on to serve in the 2 /4th Battalion, Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. The second floor of the new home will be known as Brooks House.
His grandson, Keith Brooks, says: “It’s a wonderful tribute, not just to what he did, but to everyone else who fought. I think he’d be very proud and very embarrassed with this recognition. He was proud of his Victoria Cross and I think he’d be very proud to be honoured by The Royal Star & Garter Homes too. But I know he would have liked to have shared this accolade with the people he fought with.”
Curtis House is the home’s specialist dementia centre, and is named after pioneering pilot Lettice Curtis. She served with the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA), which was responsible for ferrying military aircraft to locations such as airfield and frontline squadrons during the Second World War.
Lettice ferried an astonishing 1467 aircraft during the conflict, and is widely regarded as the first woman to qualify to fly a four-engined bomber in the UK. She lived in Twyford and White Waltham, near High Wycombe, for many years before her death in 2014, aged 99.
Patricia Peal, niece of Miss Curtis, says: “Aunt Lettice didn’t like a fuss but was a very strong proponent of the ATA and its support for military aviation. She would be quietly proud of the honour of her name being associated with this wonderful new Royal Star & Garter home.”