Legacy is still helping the elderly

11th October 2023

Laurel House in Brampton is still supporting older people in the community more than half a century after it opened its doors, despite being sold almost 20 years ago.

The property was gifted to the senior citizens of the town in the sixties and was set up by Mrs Mary Cartmell as a warm and welcoming place for the older generation as somewhere to socialise, have a meal and enjoy a variety of activities.

For 40 years the property on Main Street played host to endless hot meals, laughter, companionship and even carpet bowls upstairs until it became too expensive to run. It was sold in 2004 and the proceeds were invested to provide grants to local groups supporting older people in Brampton through The Laurel House Management Committee.

As the committee members themselves were growing older the decision was made to transfer remaining funds to Cumbria Community Foundation (CCF) this year to carry on the legacy.

The Laurel House Brampton Fund has now been set up and continues to operate in the same way honouring Mrs Cartmell’s wishes. Some former committee members remain involved and have been advising on grant applications as well as ensuring CCF continue to support the same groups as part of the transfer.

L-R Carol Saunders, Diane Davidson, Maureen Granville, Michael Godridge, Ellen Clements

Mrs Maureen Granville who is now in her 80s, has been instrumental to Laurel House’s success throughout its history and has very fond memories.

Mrs Granville said: “Laurel House contacted the WI where I was a member asking for some help cooking lunches. We used to make up to 30 lunches as well as send out meals to elderly people. I have some lovely memories, like on pancake day one year we made up a huge bowl of batter only to discover we didn’t have a frying pan.

“Laurel House brought happiness to many socially isolated elderly people. It was a warm and happy place. Mrs Cartmell would be so pleased to know that the charity is still helping people, it’s a wonderful way to remember her and the memories of cherished times.”

Mrs Granville became a trustee of the Laurel House Management Committee when it formed and served as its secretary, alongside custodian trustee and treasurer James Williamson until it transferred to the Foundation in 2022. Their commitment to ensuring Mrs Cartmell’s legacy lives on has been extraordinary.

Cumbria Community Foundation began receiving applications to the Laurel House Brampton Fund earlier this year and has been giving out grants to volunteer groups that work with older people and charitable not-for-profit organisations that support people over the age of 60 in Brampton.

Ellen Clements, senior grants and donor services officer at the Foundation said: “All five applicants that we have so far awarded have received previous funding from the Laurel House Management Committee. I have been working closely with the previous Trustees to ensure that the funding goes to the groups that are a priority for the fund and they are happy to support.”

Brampton Bus Buddies, which was set up in 2014 is one of the groups that have been awarded funding by the Laurel House Brampton Fund.

Harry Urwin Simpson, treasurer, said: “We help people overcome isolation and enjoy the company of other people. For some it’s about getting their independence back after losing their driving licence due to ill health. For others, it’s simply about having a friend to travel with. This generous grant will allow us to treat our members to a meal out on one of our outings especially in this current climate.”

Tim Cartmell is a member of Cumbria Community Foundation’s main grants committee and is also the son of Laurel House founder Mary Cartmell. He said: “My mother’s aim was to support the older generation in Brampton and I think it’s fair to say she succeeded. It’s incredible that well over half a century later we are still supporting people that ironically would have been youngsters all those years ago. She would be delighted.”

If you know of an organisation that could possibly be supported by the Laurel House Brampton Fund, click here.