Cyril and Pam Richards have been happily settling in to their brand new apartment at Churchill’s Neville Lodge in Peacehaven, and they think Cyril’s old friend Winston Churchill would approve.
“I used to work for Kent Police’s Special Branch in my younger days,” explains Cyril. “I was Churchill’s personal bodyguard on the many occasions when he visited the area, especially during his stays at Chilham Castle. We got on well and I remember he’d always be asking me to play cards. He usually won, but then again he usually cheated!”
Cyril also spent time at Churchill’s Chartwell family home in Westerham, and observed the great man getting his hands dirty with odd jobs in the garden. “He was always in the garden, building walls and also painting, which he loved,” recalls Cyril. “He even did a portrait of me once, which I kept for many years, but unfortunately it was lost to fire.”
During a distinguished career, Cyril also looked after Queen Elizabeth II – or Princess Elizabeth as she was then – during the time before her coronation. He was recognised for his service in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list of 1964, and presented with his award at Buckingham Palace, as recorded in the London Gazette cutting which he keeps to this day.
“There are so many stories he could tell you,” says Cyril’s proud wife Pam. “He was even involved in catching one of the Great Train Robbers! On significant dates, like the 50th anniversary of Churchill’s death, Cyril’s connections mean he often receives official gifts, like a special commemorative coin from the Royal Mint.”
So, was it the Churchill connection that first attracted Cyril and Pam to an apartment at Neville Lodge? “The Churchill name certainly caught our attention,” says Pam. “Most of my family live on the south coast, and I was born in Brighton, so we were looking at moving back to this area, and when we saw there was a Churchill development we just had to come and have a look. Now we’re enjoying getting to know our new neighbours, who are all very pleasant. The Churchill team and our Lodge Manager Carla have been so friendly and helpful, and we love having the company of the other Owners.”
Pam sums it up nicely: “Cyril used to take care of things for Winston Churchill, and now Churchill Retirement Living are taking care of things for us!”
To find out more about Neville Lodge, Peacehaven call 0800 458 1856 or visit churchillretirement.co.uk/neville-lodge.