Its purpose is to provide accommodation in London for residents of Gibraltar who are sent to London Hospitals for consultation and/or to receive medical treatment under the Gibraltar Health Authority Sponsored Patient Scheme and it has been doing so since 1990 when it first opened its doors to patients and their escorts at 47 Princes Square, Bayswater, London. Calpe House GA provides modern accommodation in central London, a couple of minutes walk from St Mary’s Hospital. Our staff offer practical and vital emotional and psychological support, not only for patients but for their escorts as well. Patients take great comfort in staying at an intrinsically friendly Gibraltarian facility, where they see friendly faces and hear familiar voices at a time in their life when they and their loved ones feel most vulnerable. It’s why we simply call it Gibraltar’s ‘Home from Home’.
The concept of Calpe House GA was the brain-child of Peter Caetano. Peter’s friend was a sponsored patient sent to London for a medical check-up and whilst in London he was devastatingly diagnosed with cancer, at the time he was staying at bed and breakfast accommodation on his own without the support of friends or family, he had to live through the misery of his diagnosis and treatment totally alone. It is then, that Peter formed the idea that there should be somewhere in London for patients and their escorts to stay together in one building where vital support and friendship could be offered during this very difficult time.
Peter Caetano approached Charles Tilbury who formed ‘The Calpe House GA (London) Appeal Fund Raising Committee”. The fund was constituted in June 1988 and a total of £300,000 was collected by June 1990 when the fundraising ended. During the fundraising period the Diabetic Society, Cancer Research, Royal British Legion, Mental Welfare, Lions, Cancer Relief and Mount Alvernia all stopped their own fundraising to help the committee with the fundraising effort. Although the amount raised fell far short of the purchase price for the building which had already been identified, the Chief Minister at the time, The Honourable Sir Joseph Bossano KCMG MP, committed HM Government of Gibraltar to match pound for pound the money raised, this donation by the Government converted the dream into reality and allowed Princes Square to become Gibraltar’s ‘Home from Home’.
The following are the Committee Members and Friends who took part in the initial fundraising:
Charles Tilbury BEM, Peter Caetano, Albert Poggio OBE GMH, Robert M Vasquez, John Gomez, Otilio Viale MBE, The Hon Juan Carlos Perez, Leslie Mesilio, Henry Smart, Pepe Fabre BEM MBE, Elliot M Azzopardi, Leslie A Wahnon, Mrs E Pitaluga, Joseph Jurado BEM, Claudio Morillo and Mrs Maribelle Chiappe.
‘The Calpe House GA (London) Appeal Fund Raising Committee’ was converted into a charity under the name of ‘The Calpe House GA Charitable Trust’ in 1991. The appointed trustees were Charles Tilbury BEM, Peter Caetano, Albert Poggio OBE GMH, Otilio Viale MBE and General Sir William Jackson OBE KCB MC (Governor of Gibraltar at the time).
The first housekeeper of Calpe House GA was Anna Maria Peliza, who did a wonderful job in establishing the building and making it welcoming, she was followed by the ever popular Margaret North who went over and above the call of duty in her care for patients and their escorts staying at Calpe House GA, she was much loved by all until her retirement. Margaret was followed by Jaime Leon who took over as housekeeper in 2010, Jaime modernised the running of the building and soon became the new, much loved, face of Calpe House GA.
Over the years, the Trustees came to the view that Princes Square was too small to meet the growing demands of the Trust, it was simply not big enough to effectively accommodate the number of patients visiting London.
The trustees undertook an exhaustive search for larger premises and viewed a number of properties within the area of Bayswater, 19 – 23 Norfolk Square presented itself, it was owned by a housing association and was being used as residential accommodation for medical staff at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington (across the road from Norfolk Square). Given the Trust’s charitable status, the Trustees sought legal advice as to the means by which Norfolk Square could be acquired, they were advised the best vehicle to do so, and one that was encouraged and recommended by the UK Charity Commission, was a Company Limited by Guarantee. In July 2014 ‘Calpe House GA Limited’ was registered with Companies House under number 09122440, the trustees at the time became members of the Company. A Company Limited by Guarantee does not have any share capital and cannot issue shares in itself, The UK Charity Commission granted Calpe House GA Ltd charitable status and its registration number is 1161889. The purchase of 19-23 Norfolk Square was completed in April 2015 and the ominous task to refurbish the buildings to the Trusts standard started shortly after.
Projects of Grade II listed buildings are always challenging but the final product makes it all worthwhile, the refurbishment project was completed in August 2018. The time now came to make Norfolk Square Gibraltar’s new ‘Home from Home’, the building was furnished and the furniture, fixings & electrical (F,F&E) was paid for by the money donated by the Corporate Sponsors of the Charity, the trustees purchased two park bench’s which were donated on behalf of the People of Gibraltar to the City of Westminster conditional that they would sit in gardens of Norfolk Square, pictures and paintings which were donated by sponsors were hung and the building was now ready for occupation, the Trustees appointed a dedicated team of staff to deliver their vision, headed by Dee Michaelides, Jaime Leon and Daissy Angel Ortiz, later replaced by Jo Macree . The first patients and their escorts stayed at Norfolk Square as and from 1st August 2018, to date (June 2020) over 3000 patients and their escorts have enjoyed the facilities offered.
Since the opening there have been a number of improvements and additions; including making the GBC Open Day lounge feel more homely and upgrading the main kitchen both paid for by donations to the Friends and creating a playroom for children, which was designed by Jasmine Schembri and sponsored by Fastafoods.
The Trust is grateful to The Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo MP, and his Government, for their total support during the purchase and refurbishment process, and for their continued support .
The staff and trustees of Calpe House GA have an overwhelming sense of pride for the New Calpe House GA and if you do have to come to London for medical treatment or care we hope this facility lives up to its promise and provides a ‘Home from Home’ in your time of need.