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Pioneering LifeCare Residences celebrates International Women’s Day

Tuesday 8th March 2022 marked International Women’s Day – where countries all over the world unite in celebration of women’s achievements. The day, which is marked annually, honours women of the past, present and future who have championed change in gender equality. It’s a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The first official International Women’s Day was in 1975 when it was recognised by the United Nations.  However, its origins began earlier in 1908 when a women’s rights march in New York City saw 15,000 people advocating for better pay and voting rights.  Supporting and celebrating women’s rights is a year-round responsibility – but at its core, the day serves an important purpose as it forces conversations about women’s achievements and global gender inequality into the mainstream – and it invites people of all backgrounds, ages, and genders to consider what they can do to make the world a more equal place for everyone.


Gender equality is embedded within the DNA of LifeCare Residences communities. LifeCare Residences is internationally renowned, with over 30 years’ experience dedicated to enriching lives. The forward-thinking team has a commitment to providing outstanding care and choice with facilities of five-star hotel quality. The pioneering and award-winning retirement communities operated by LifeCare Residences provide vibrant places to live that pay homage to women not only on International Women’s Day, but every day. But the team also recognises the importance of marking the day itself, too. Indeed, last year, in homage to their many female residents at Grove Place near Romsey in Hampshire, a single daffodil was given to each woman with an explanation of International Women’s Day attached to the bloom. The same gesture of the daffodil gift will be repeated, this year. At Battersea Place, London’s first luxury retirement community, the team is offering residents a complimentary afternoon tea to celebrate International Women’s Day.


Furthermore, two out of the three LifeCare Residences retirement communities are run by women. Emma Rathbone is the dynamic General Manager at Battersea Place and oversees the work of over 100 staff at the luxury retirement community – a challenge that she relishes.  Emma’s primary aim is to keep the residents happy and continue offering the five-star service for which Battersea Place is renowned. “We want to keep things fresh and up to date. For example, we may introduce new food menus and activities and bring in experts who can chat to residents on a range of interesting subjects. We’re constantly seeking feedback from residents to find out what they want.”  Emma grew up in Cheshire and studied tourism and hospitality, starting out as a hotel manager in Edinburgh. She loves her role at Battersea Place, saying, “It’s the ideal role for me, both on a personal and professional front.” Lesley Brock takes her role as General Manager at Somerleigh Court, in the heart of historic Dorchester in Dorset, very seriously and has a total of 39 years of experience under her belt working within the care industry. Somerleigh Court offers retirees a fully independent lifestyle, but with the reassurance of care, if needed, and all residents have access to generously sized apartments which all have a lovely, traditional feel to them. The team, led by Lesley, is proud of the homely feel and sense of community that the residents enjoy. Somerleigh Court also has a specialist dementia unit where care is regularly reviewed to ensure a good quality of care is always provided under her watchful eye.


Moreover, the very locations of the communities themselves in Dorset, Hampshire and Battersea in London are a source of great female historical inspiration. The location of Battersea Place yields many pioneering women connected to the area, in a range of fields and disciplines; politics, technology, sports, literature, entertainment – even aviation and marathon running!  One such example was Charlotte Despard (1844 – 1939), a leading socialist reformer, suffragette campaigner, pacifist, and supporter of Irish independence. She began her career funding and personally running welfare projects in the industrial slums of Battersea’s Nine Elms. She became a powerful stump orator, regularly addressing large outdoor meetings in an era when it was still rare for women to make public speeches. It has been said that she even influenced the young Mahatma Gandhi who met her during his first visit to London in the summer of 1914. “She is a wonderful woman”, he wrote. Hilda Hewlett (1864 – 1943) rejected the view, held by many men, that the ‘fair sex’ did not have ‘the right kind of nerve’ for aviation. She was the first British woman to get a pilot’s licence, the first to open a flying school and the first to open a factory to manufacture aircraft! This venture was initially located in north Battersea, a stone’s throw from the Battersea Place retirement community. Hilda Hewlett really was an inspiring force for change, training not only young men, but young women in the skills of aviation and engineering.  Another inspiring woman, hailing from Battersea was Violet Piercy (1889 – 1972). She was a natural athlete but was constrained by the traditional taboos about women in competitive sport. So, she began running unofficial marathons in a very public way. In 1926 she ran from Windsor Castle to Battersea Town Hall and eventually in 1936 she was allowed to run an official marathon route. Her aim was simple, “I did it to prove that a woman’s stamina can be just as remarkable as a man’s.” Women like her helped to overthrow the barriers to women in sport.


Grove Place, near Romsey in Hampshire, combines a successful blend of a rich and fascinating history embodied in a stunning 16th century red brick Manor House with a range of contemporary, purpose-built apartments and bungalows. Its location in Hampshire is also home to a number of extraordinary and influential women who have brought about change, made a difference, or left a legacy that should be cherished. Hampshire is fortunate to have been home to so many remarkable women – past and present who have made a major contribution to society, either locally or on a national level. One such woman was Josephine Butler (1828 – 1906) – a social reformer and pioneering feminist who dared to speak out publicly and achieved huge social reforms at a time when women didn’t even have the right to vote. Another inspiring woman, hailing from Hampshire, is Beatrice Shilling (1909 – 1990) – an aeronautical engineer and amateur racing driver. During the Second World War she designed and developed ‘Miss Shilling’s orifice’ to restrict fuel flow to the carburettor of the Rolls Royce engines in the Hawker Hurricane and Spitfire fighters. She was one of only three women awarded a Gold Star for lapping a circuit in a motorbike at over 100 miles per hour. She was once described by a fellow scientist as a “flaming pathfinder of Women’s Lib” and always rejected any suggestion that as a woman she might be inferior to a man in technical or scientific fields.  Closer to home, one of Grove Place’s previous residents was Lady Grace Sherington (1552 – 1620) who was a medical practitioner who gained fame for making and dispensing medicines for the sick and infirm and is noted for her huge charitable efforts.   She is also one of the first women to write an autobiography (one of the earliest on record).


Dorset, the location of Somerleigh Court, is also home to many amazing women. Mary Anning (1799 – 1847) was a trail-blazing fossil collector and palaeontologist who contributed to changes in scientific thinking about the origins of prehistoric life. She identified the first ichthyosaur skeleton when she was only twelve and her extensive knowledge of fossils made her well-known in scientific circles way beyond Dorset.  And most recently, of note is P J Harvey (MBE) – a twice Mercury Prize winning singer, songwriter and musician was born in nearby Bridport, and is a true daughter of Dorset, growing up on her family farm.


If you would like to learn more about LifeCare Residences and the women (and men) who shape our communities, please call T. 0800 009 6950.

For those who are unable to visit in person, we are also able to offer virtual tours of our communities at your convenience.