Liberation of Bergen Belsen

Richard Carr-Gomm

Major Richard Culling Carr-Gomm, OBE (2 January 1922 – 27 October 2008) was the founder of the Abbeyfield Society, the Morpeth Society and the Carr-Gomm Society, UK charities providing care and housing for disadvantaged and lonely people.

His father was Mark Culling Carr-Gomm,and his grandfather was Francis Carr-Gomm who is known for befriending Joseph Merrick, the “Elephant Man” while serving as chairman of the London Hospital. Richard was educated at Stowe School and served in the Royal Berkshire Regiment and the Coldstream Guards from 1939 to 1955. He was amongst the first troops to enter Belsen in April 1945. He was awarded the Croix de guerre in 1944.

Carr-Gomm was deeply affected during the Billy Graham crusade to London in 1954.In 1955 he left the Army and became a volunteer home-help. Perceiving the loneliness of the people whom he was helping to be a particular problem, he spent his Army gratuity on buying a house which he invited some of them to share with him. In his subsequent life he founded a number of charities which run care homes for the elderly, the disadvantaged, and those suffering from loneliness. For this work he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1985, and in 2004 received a Beacon Prize for lifetime achievement.

He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1957 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at the BBC Television Theatre.

MORE: Richard founded a number of charities including The Abbeyfield Society, each with the simple aim to care and house the disadvantaged and lonely.

He had been greatly affected by his time in the army in the Second World War where he was one of the first Officer’s at the liberation of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

“This experience and his time immediately after the war, travelling through Europe culminating with the meeting with Billy Graham in 1954. The following year he left the army and became a home help in London’s East end, earning the nickname in the newspapers of the ‘Scrubbing Major’.

“With his army gratuity he bought a house, 50 Eugenia Road in Bermondsey where he invited two people who needed help to share it with him. From that small beginning, The Abbeyfield Society was born and grew to over 400 houses in over 7 different countries. A remarkable man with a remarkable vision.”

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