IN respect to the letter “Fading legacy” (HAS, June 23), I would strongly challenge the portrayal of your correspondent B Powles of the Abbeyfield Darlington Society and its associated houses and grounds as a “shadow” of their former splendour.

When the property was left by Lady Starmer to the Darlington society, it was with the explicit wish that it would be used to provide safe and secure housing with companionship for older people in the local area – something it still does today.

Despite the challenges we have faced during the Covid-19 pandemic, the vast majority of our residents, past and present, and their families are very happy with the services they receive, including a busy activities schedule and being served two delicious home-cooked meals a day plus breakfast.

Their health and wellbeing is put first by our wonderful staff and volunteer teams, who perfectly embody the “generosity of spirit” that B Powles correctly identifies as Lady Starmer’s legacy. Furthermore, we are planning to upgrade our buildings in the near future, with plans having been drawn up by architects to provide improved rooms and facilities for our residents.

Although some of our rooms are empty due to uncertainty caused by the pandemic – as has been the effect across the older people’s care and housing sectors in the UK – we are once again delighted to welcome new enquiries from prospective residents and their families considering supported housing as their next home.

In regard to our grounds, they have not been “neglected” as B Powles suggests. We, in fact, have beautiful gardens which the local Rotary Club, Queen Elizabeth College, our ground staff and, not least, our residents help to maintain.

I would like to invite anyone who would like to see the grounds for themselves to book an appointment by contacting or 01325 369673.

Dr Trevor Birnie, Chair, Abbeyfield (Darlington) Society.