Page last updated at 15:40 GMT, Tuesday, 5 August 2008 16:40 UK

Retired musicians' home to close

Steinway piano
Residents have been able to enjoy recitals in the home

A residential home dedicated to looking after retired musicians is to close in October 2009, it has been announced.

Ivor Newton House, a 21-bed care home in Bromley, south-east London is the only such facility in the UK dedicated to retired musicians.

The Musicians Benevolent Fund (MBF), which runs the home said it had become increasingly difficult to fill beds.

Previous occupants included Czech conductor Vilem Tausky and British conductor Stanford Robinson.

Students and professional musicians often attend the house to give recitals.

I have lived in Ivor Newton House since 2004 and there is no way I want to move
Len Davis, resident
"This decision has not been taken without a great deal of thought," said MBF Chairman, Richard Lyttelton.

"But it has become increasingly difficult to fill the home as more and more people seeking our support wish to go into residential care closer to where they live or near family and friends."

The MBF added that the home was "unable to offer specialist nursing and dementia care" and that its facilities did not meet the levels "expected by extremely discerning and well-informed potential residents".


The current occupants are believed to be looking into a judicial review of the decision to close the home.

"I have lived in Ivor Newton House since 2004 and there is no way I want to move," said long-term resident Len Davis.

"Ivor Newton House is entirely fit for purpose as far as the residents and staff are concerned, and has always received acceptable reports from the authorities.

"I am very angry that the MBF, as a charity, is forcibly evicting people from their home at this stage of their lives."

The Musicians Union also expressed concern over the closure, and said it would do its "utmost to support the current residents", many of whom are in their 90s.

The MBF said it would help current residents to find new homes, and would cover any moving costs.

It added that it also funds "a large number of older people in other residential, nursing and dementia care homes around the country, who have preferred to stay in their local area rather than move to Bromley".

Staff at the Ivor Newton Home will be given "enhanced" redundancy packages and support in finding new jobs.

Your comments:

I am sad to learn that Ivor Newton House is to close. My friend Nance Littlewood lived there for several years. And as a Bromley resident I am proud that, with Bromley Youth Music Trust, we have the best youth orchestras in the country and the only musicians' retirement home. A musical career from cradle to grave.
Adam, Orpington, UK

It's a tragic loss. I knew a fabulous musician who refused to leave her home for anywhere but there - despite being in her eighties. It was a great comfort to her that she could go somewhere where her love of music was so well catered for and that she would be around those who understood it.
Rachel, London

As an amateur musician I am saddened that those professionals who have need of such a home are being dealt with in such a cavalier way by their own charity. Shame on the charity for putting operational profit before the residents well being. Find another way to pay for the place - like getting the residents to put on fund raising musical evenings for other "mature" local people to enjoy to make up any shortfall.
Ian, Farnham

This is just another example of the despicable way we treat the elderly and infirm in this country. No resident of a care home should face having to move at that time of life, be it a home for musicians or for anyone else.
Anon, Romford, Essex

Like actors in film or on stage, musicians give their all at each and every performance. It's a pity that we cannot find a way to help those in need. It's hard work to learn an instrument and it's even more hard work to maintain your "chops". For this work you don't get paid terribly much (unless you're a rock star) but you do bring joy to those in the audience. Can't the MBF keep the doors of Newton House open and let the remaining residents live their lives out there rather than being forcibly uprooted in their 90's?
Anon, Melbourne Beach, Florida USA

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