Our organisation and the key people leading it

Any organisation, large or small, can only be as good as the people in it. Abbeyfield's well-earned reputation for providing excellent care services and facilities is mainly thanks to the exceptional people - management, staff and volunteers - who have joined our cause. But it's also down to the way we're structured as an organisation, the effective systems, processes and procedures we've put in place, and our rigorous governance controls.

Our history

The first Abbeyfield house was established in 1956 by Richard Carr-Gomm. He recognised that a lot of older people were living alone and feeling isolated in their own communities and wanted to provide them with a safe and secure home where they could find friendship and support.

Soon after purchasing a house in Bermondsey and inviting two local residents to move in, he had purchased five more properties and formally set up The Abbeyfield Society.  Before long, volunteers around the county had formed their own societies and the dream of a nationwide charity providing high quality housing, support and companionship in later life had become a reality.

From those humble beginnings we have developed wonderful facilities that include over 500 houses and homes with committed staff and 4,000+ volunteers in the UK.  Worldwide there are now around 9,000 residents living in 850 houses and homes and this number is set to increase over the coming years.


How we are structured

We own and manage lots of our own homes, and we also have member Abbeyfield societies.  Together we look after thousands of residents across the world, all enjoying exceptional care and support from dedicated staff and volunteers.

Owned and centrally managed properties

Our properties are run on the principle that we're accountable to our residents for the services we provide.  We work closely with various international, national and local partners to develop our services.

We commit wholeheartedly to providing the highest standards of housing, care and support for older people.  Our approach provides a balance of privacy, support and security for older people, who don't want to live alone or with relatives. 

Our international reach

From a humble start in South London, Abbeyfield has grown over the years from the whole of the UK to worldwide presence. Currently, we have operations in eight territories outside the UK spread over five continents. These are currently:

In Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Belgium we have national offices led by Executive Directors. All overseas houses meet the Abbeyfield quality standard or a local equivalent.

There are general differences between the types of housing offered, depending on normal arrangements within that country. Generally, the accommodation is traditional Abbeyfield assisted living, supplying communal living for between eight and 12 residents per house. In Australia we have three care facilities. In total, we have approximately 100 houses serving 1,000 residents. Generally these houses cater for people with lesser economic means, so we offer below market rentals.

Our Executive Committee

Douglas Webb, Interim Chief Executive Officer 

douglas webb interim chief executive abbeyfield 

Douglas qualified as a Registered General Nurse in 1988 and had a clinical career mostly in trauma operating theatres before starting his general management career with BUPA. In 2000 Douglas began working in the elderly care sector including executive and non executive roles in a variety of national and regional organisations.

Michael Valenzia, Membership Director

michael valenzia membership director abbeyfield

Michael joined Abbeyfield in July 2016 after a successful career in public service as well as in the third sector. Latterly he worked at a senior level in a membership based organisation primarily supporting older people and managing diverse teams that were spread right across the United Kingdom.

He is married to Joan, a physiotherapist, has three children and is interested in history and other cultures and beliefs. He is a passionate fundraiser for various military and civilian charities, is a trustee of the Andover Foodbank and is a keen sportsman and passionate Manchester United fan.

Stewart Mynott, Divisional Director (West) 

stewart mynott divisional director west for abbeyfield

Stewart joined Abbeyfield in 2007 as a Regional Manager and more recently has held the post of Regional Head of Care Services.

Stewart’s career in social care has spanned over 20 years holding a number of management positions in the voluntary and private sector. He also has worked in the regulation and inspection of registered care services as well as teaching within the social care field.

Anna Boyes, Marketing Director 

anna boyes marketing director abbeyfield

Anna Joined Abbeyfield in February 2014. Anna has a background in consumer facing marketing roles within the private sector.

Anna brings varied experience across multiple sectors including FMGC, pharmaceuticals, food and lifestage marketing. Anna has a BA honours degree in Business Studies from The University of Hertfordshire and a Diploma in Marketing from The Chartered Institute of Marketing. 

Anna Humphries, Divisional Director (East)

anna humphries divisional director east abbeyfield

Anna joined Abbeyfield in March 2014 having worked for a number of housing and support providers in the public and charitable sectors over the last 18 years.

Prior to joining Abbeyfield Anna worked for Orbit Independent Living as Regional Manager for the East having previously spent 5 years at MHA managing independent living housing and care services across the UK.

Anna has an honours degree from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in politics and Social Policy.

Teresa Parker, Divisional Director (North)

theresa parker the abbeyfield society

Teresa was previously employed by Somerset County Council, as a lead officer in ensuring the quality of services for vulnerable people.

Previously she worked in not for profit and private sector, in managing a varied range of services for older people both within the community and accommodation based.

Teresa has a London University Degree and is a Chartered Institute of Housing Member.

Richard Virr, Director of Development

richard virr the abbeyfield society

Richard joined Abbeyfield in April 2012 and has over 20 years experience in property and construction. Prior to joining Abbeyfield, Richard worked for Buro Four, the largest specialist Project Management consultancy in the UK.

Richard holds a degree in Building Surveying and is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and a member of the Association for Project Management.

Our Board

Our Board of Trustees is made up of volunteer members and the Abbeyfield CEO, each selected for their expertise and experience in sectors including housing, care and finance.

They are reponsible for setting our corporate strategy, approving policies, annual budgets and accounts, as well as long term planning and assessing and managing risk.

Ian Plaistowe, Chairman

Ian Plaistowe Chairman of the abbeyfield society

Ian became chairman of Abbeyfield on the 23rd of July 2015.

Ian is a Chartered Accountant and had a long career with Arthur Andersen where he was Managing Practice Director for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India. He was former President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, vice-chairman of the Takeover Panel and the Financial Reporting Council.

Currently, he is Chairman, vice chairman or trustee of various charities including the University of Buckingham and The Family Planning Association. He has been a member of the Abbeyfield Audit Committee since 2006.

Rachael Byrne

rachel byrne the abbeyfield society

Rachael joined Home Group in 2009 as Executive Director of Stonham, Home's Care and Support arm of the organisation. Stonham is the largest national provider of housing and support with over 600 supported housing projects nationwide, and a strong reputation in delivering services for homeless people in a range of floating support and accommodation based settings.

During her first year with Stonham, Rachael has ensured the delivery of Stonham's growth business strategy, focused on the challenges and opportunities of the supporting people market, and a client led strategy that has delivered a whole new breadth of opportunities for clients.

Rachael has 25 years experience in supported housing and began working in the field as a night project worker, so she has a great understanding of what it takes to support clients at all levels, and an understanding of what colleagues at schemes face day to day. Previously Rachael has worked for a range of supported housing providers including Local Authorities, NACRO, and prior to joining Home worked 10 years with Riverside ECHG as Director of Supported Housing.

Rachael is passionate about the future of housing and support services ensuring services retain their importance and significance in the changing political context.

Jenny Lawrence

jenny lawrence the abbeyfield society

Jenny became involved with Abbeyfield in 2011 in the voluntary role of regional strategy head for the north east of England.

Jenny is a chartered management accountant with over 20 years experience working in a range of public and private sector roles. She has specialised in change management projects with a focus on finance systems, and is an experienced interim manager and trained coach.

In previous voluntary roles Jenny has been a school governor, Princes Trust mentor, Young Enterprise volunteer and also volunteered as a Gamesmaker at London 2012.

Cameron Swift

cameron swift the abbeyfield society

Cameron Swift, a hospital physician and clinical pharmacologist with a career-long specialist interest in ageing and the health of older people, is Emeritus Professor of Health Care of the Elderly at King's College School of Medicine, London. He was President of the UK's medical professional Society in the field from 2000-2002 and a UK Medicines Commissioner from 2001-5. His personal and departmental research into drug treatment and ageing, stroke, preventative health and health service provision for older people, and falls prevention has been extensively published.

As Physician on the External Reference Group to the Department of Health for the England National Service Framework for Older People, he chaired the Working Party for Standard 6 (Falls & Fractures), and from 2009-11 the development of the recently launched NICE Guideline on Hip Fracture. He has extensive experience of the needs of older people at the interfaces between health and social care and housing.

Amanda Houlihan

 amanda houlihan abbeyfield

Amanda is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, and has worked in the field of Human Resources for over twenty five years, culminating in senior strategic board roles. She has operated in a number of very different business sectors, and has extensive experience in all aspects of Human Resources, but a particular interest in organisational and cultural change. She is a trained coach and mentor, and often worked to establish Human Resources as a function in organisations where none previously existed.

She has been involved in the Abbeyfield organisation since 2005, when she came a Trustee and member of the Executive Committee for the Leonard Pulham Nursing Home (The Abbeyfield Buckinghamshire Society) where she is currently Vice Chair, following five years as Chair of the home.

She is also a Trustee and Vice Chair of RSAS which is developing the RSAS National Resource Centre for Carers of People with Dementia. The Centre will be a major innovation in the way in which family and friends who care for persons with dementia can get the support they need to enhance their caring skills, access information and receive social therapeutic interventions.

Jeff Medlock

jeff medlock abbeyfield

Jeff Medlock qualified as an actuary with Equity & Law Life Insurance after graduating from London School of Economics, and spent his career in the financial services industry. He was an executive director of Royal Life Insurance until 1991 when he moved to the Netherlands to establish the european insurance network, Eureko. Thereafter he moved to the executive board of Achmea BV, the leading Dutch insurer as Finance Director. He has extensive international insurance experience in America, Canada, Australia and across Europe. He retired in 2004 but remained a director of F&C Asset Management plc. until 2013.

He became a trustee of Abbeyfield Beaconsfield Society in 2009 and has been Chairman since 2012. He was previously a trustee of the national childrens' charity Life Education Centres from 2005 until 2012, which merged with Coram to become Coram Life Education in 2009. He was also a trustee of the Company of Actuaries Charitable Trust for eight years until 2013, since 2009 as Chairman.

The Right Reverend Dr Stephen Venner, DL

dr steven venner

Stephen was for 30 years a parish priest in London, Wiltshire and Dorset, followed by five years as Bishop in Greater Manchester, responsible for Oldham, Rochdale and Tameside. For ten years he was the Bishop in Canterbury & Bishop of Dover, leading the Diocese of Canterbury on behalf of the Archbishop. In retirement, Stephen served as Bishop to Her Majesty’s Armed Forces and Bishop for the Falkland Islands until June 2014.

He has been involved in education as teacher and governor locally and nationally. Vice-Chairman of the CofE Education Board and, for 2 years, Acting Chairman. He was the first Pro-Chancellor of Canterbury Christ Church University, who awarded him their first ever honorary doctorate. He was on the Council of St John Kent, a senior member of Kent’s Strategic Partnership and chairman of Kent’s Children’s Trust. He has been a Schools Adjudicator for England.

Stephen is married to Judy, a retired Senior Education Adviser for Kent. They live in St Albans in a development for the over 55s. They have three grown up children nearby and four grandchildren. He remains an honorary Deputy Lieutenant of Kent, and is an honorary Assistant Bishop in the dioceses of St Albans and Europe.

Chris Smith

 chris smith the abbeyfield society

Chris retired in 2013 after 10 years as Chief of Staff to the Archbishop of Canterbury. He now pursues a portfolio of interests, mainly in the voluntary sector, as well as looking after grandchildren when required.

Prior to working for the Archbishop, he was General Manager of C Hoare & Co (Bankers) from 1999 to 2003, General Secretary of the London Diocese from 1993 to 1999, and for 23 years was with Price Waterhouse, mainly in training, operations management and HR.

He has been a Deputy Chair of Governors of a major South London girls’ school, as well as Southwark College of Further Education, and spent 17 years as Treasurer of Holy Trinity Church Brompton.

Chris was appointed CBE in the Queen’s 2014 New Year’s Honours.


Norman Greville

norman greville the abbeyfield society

Norman is a Chartered Surveyor, having qualified in 1980, and has worked in the private sector for over 35 years. He has been involved in the construction, technical appraisal and maintenance of commercial properties including the management of national programmes of construction work for the public sector.

Over the years, he has also advised clients on the management of construction risks associated with development projects. Norman currently works for Telereal Trillium, a large property and development company.

Norman also sits on the Conservation Committee at Historic England advising on programmes of work across its historic estate.

Andre Decraene

 andre decraene abbeyfield society

André has a vast experience as General Counsel EMEA of international enterprises of U.S., Canadian and French parenthood, active in manufacturing, selling and marketing of Quality Consumer Products, Rail Transportation Systems and ICT.

In 2000 he joined the Belgian Car and Truck Importers Association as secretary general. He is a Vice-President of Abbeyfield Belgium since 2014, in charge of international relations. He is also involved in several projects for new houses in Belgium, notably by conducting the negotiations with the City of Brussels Housing Administration for a new Abbeyfield House in the Brussels area.

So André has a passion for learning about and understanding the aims and concerns of the people with whom to deal. André is also a trustee of other charities dealing with housing and welfare of people with a mental illness.

Cheryl Dean

 cheryl dean abbeyfield society

Cheryl Dean is the Chair of Abbeyfield South Africa and has been at the forefront of the transformation agenda, including the development of the new Pelican Park house.

She works as the Managing Director of the Learning Cape Initiative which offers young people across the Western Cape province of South Africa vocational skills and assists in placing them in permanent employment. Previously she managed the St John Ambulance in Cape Town.

Cheryl joined the Board of The Abbeyfield Society in November 2015.

Our patrons

We are lucky to have the support of many patrons, who give their time and expertise to support our work. Our Royal patron HRH the Prince of Wales and the Carr-Gomm family are invaluable in underpinning our values.

We thank all our patrons for their continued support.

Royal Patron
HRH The Prince of Wales, KG, KT, GCB, OM

Brenda Dean, Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde

John Robinson, CBE


  • The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Baron Williams of Oystermouth
  • The Duchess of Northumberland
  • Lord John Prescott
  • Harriet Carr-Gomm
  • David Carr-Gomm
  • Adam Carr-Gomm
  • Elizabeth Parker (Carr-Gomm)
  • Anna Newton (Carr-Gomm)
  • Dame Vera Lynn DBE, LLD,M.Mus
  • Ron Kenyon, OBE
  • Michael Brooks
  • The Rt Hon Baroness Virginia Bottomley of Nettlestone, JP
  • Christopher G R Buxton, OBE
  • Dame Gillian Wagner, DBE, OBE
  • Dame Judi Dench, DBE
  • The Lord Elis-Thomas
  • The Rt Hon Lord Howard of Lympne QC
  • Alun E Michael, JP
  • Dame Patricia Routledge, OBE
  • Martin Shreeve, OBE MBA DSW BSc (Econ)
  • Professor Alan Walker, DLitt FRSA
  • Aled Jones

Abbeyfield Reports and Guides

Here is the Abbeyfield Annual Report and Accounts for 2016

Annual Report & Accounts 2016

Abbeyfield Value for Money statement 2015 -2016

Value for Money Statement 2015/16

The Abbeyfield Value for Money Self Assessment 2014 - 2015