Liberation of Bergen Belsen
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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.”

Richard Carr Gomm

Update:
An international charity founded by a decorated war veteran who helped liberate prisoners from a Nazi concentration camp runs some of the best care homes in Scotland.

Abbeyfield operates Campbell Snowdon House in Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire, and Abbeyfield Ballachulish on the banks of Loch Leven, which have been rated excellent in all areas by inspectors.

The charity’s other homes in Irvine, Kirkcaldy, Perth and Rutherglen are rated very good or good.

The Times has ranked care homes according to their data score judged by the Care Inspectorate with resident wellbeing as the primary metric. Abbeyfield was founded by Richard Carr-Gomm, who was among the first troops to arrive at the Belsen concentration camp in 1945 and won France’s Croix de Guerre medal for bravery in 1944. Carr-Gomm resigned from the army in 1955 and founded the Abbeyfield Society in 1956, inspired by nuns caring for the elderly and disabled in Turin, and his attendance at a sermon by Billy Graham, the American evangelist. Mother Teresa was a regular visitor to his home before his death in 2008.

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This archive has been established after my own relative, Reg Price, took part in the liberation and subsequent humanitarian effort of Bergen Belsen in April 1945. Reg produced this famous sign at Belsen. As part of the 113th DLI, Reg and his comrades were at Belsen for 5 weeks and left when the last hut was empty and ceremonially burnt down. This archive compiles all available resources to build a lasting tribute to all the men and women who helped - any unit, any nationality. If you have a relative, or any info, on the relief effort at Belsen, we’d love you to please get in touch. Email us: liberator@belsen.co.ukThank you Nick Price CreativesFacebookTwitter