Weston hotel for RAF veterans to close

Flowerdown House is closing permanently.

Flowerdown House is closing permanently. - Credit: Archant

A Weston hotel for RAF veterans has closed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Flowerdown House, in Beach Road, provides holidays and respite care breaks for more than 1,000 veterans and their families each year through the RAF Association.

The charity has lost almost half of its cash flow due to the pandemic and bosses have decided to close its hotels to safeguard its welfare services which offer support to more than 85,000 people each year.

In a letter to members and beneficiaries, chairman, Air Vice-Marshal John Cliffe, said: “Like so many other charities at the moment, this pandemic has hit us hard. As a result, we have to make some difficult decisions to ensure we can continue our support for the 85,000 people who need our help every year.

“Our budgeted income is down by almost 40 per cent in 2020, and fundraising is unlikely to recover to normal levels for several years.

“And, although we have acted quickly to adapt the vast majority of our services to comply with social distancing requirements, it has simply not been possible to achieve this with all of them.”

Lockdown forced the hotel to close temporarily, but the RAF Association has said it would be unable to reopen it safely with the new social distancing restrictions and infection prevention measures.

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Air Vice-Marshal Cliffe added: “We have a clear duty to use our limited finances to help as many vulnerable people as possible and so we have spent the past month on a comprehensive review of all our services.

“The choices are stark: permanently close the hotels and slim down our non-critical back office functions, or close other welfare services that help a larger number of people (at a lower cost). “The third option would be to do nothing – which would certainly risk the future of the whole association.

“We have therefore had to take the difficult decision to permanently close our two Wings Break Hotels, and to reshape some of our support functions.”

The closure means 29 staff will be made redundant.

Flowerdown House has 18 bedrooms and 600 guests stayed in the venue for short breaks last year.

The RAF Association said it will be expanding its scheme to arrange breaks at other locations, once Covid-19 restrictions allow.

The charity has been helping thousands of people through lockdown by checking on the wellbeing of 30,000 people, providing critical support through a telephone befriending service and ensuring the most vulnerable received essential supplies.