The Queens Hotel

The initial meeting to set up the NHS Retirement Fellowship, was held in April 1978, at the Queens Hotel in Cheltenham. From this meeting the Fellowship developed, and branches spread throughout the country - in England,  Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. To date there are nearly 200 branches throughout the UK.

Cheltenham NHSRF
35th Anniversary

The year 2008 saw us celebrate 30 years as a Fellowship, and at our October meeting we celebrated this achievement with a party and we have since celebrated out 35th Anniversary in October 2013.

"In The Beginning"

(Much of this material was extracted from the "National Health Service Retirement Fellowship - The first 25 years" under the above title. This is the Silver Jubilee publication of the Fellowship, compiled and edited by Mr Roger Titley, Director of the Retirement Fellowship 1994 - 2000 and currently the Fellowship Development Officer for the North of England).

The Start

In the 1970's when it began to be realised there was a need to care for NHS pensioners, there was informal discussion at the King's Fund about setting up an organisation for this purpose, there being almost 100,000 in 1975 and an estimated 17,000 new pensioners every year.

In May 1977 Miss Irene James OBE (pictured left), the former Regional Nursing Officer of Oxford Regional Hospital Board, Principal Officer to the Nuffield Trust, WHO Fellow at King's Fund and subsequently Assistant Secretary in the Department of Health, produced a paper pointing out the need for a Fellowship for NHS retirees on a similar line to those provided by other services, such as the Civil Service. As a result there were further discussions at King's Fund which led to an experimental project being set up which was to run for one year, funded by King's fund.

Pilot Areas and Birth

Three pilot areas were picked with Gloucestershire being the first. The first meeting demonstrated that there was support in the county for setting up a Fellowship. Croydon was the second trial area and the Wirral in Merseyside the third. In all these schemes emphasis was placed on the multidisciplinary participation of all grades of staff.

The first meeting was held at the Queen's Hotel, Cheltenham on 18th April 1978, chaired by Miss James and assisted by John Greene (pictured left), former Area Nursing Officer for Gloucestershire. Eighty retirees and their spouses attended this meeting and the Fellowship was born.

The first branch to open was Cirencester with 43 attending the first meeting and this was quickly followed by Cheltenham. By 1984, (when Peterborough held its inaugural meeting,) there were 130 branches with 11,000 members and a forecast of 1.5 million by the turn of the century

Wales joined in 1979

Scotland Joined in 1981

The First National Meeting

The first National Meeting took place on 5th June 1980 with the election of a National Committee. Miss James was elected the first Chairman and Frank Reeves of King's Fund, the Hon. Treasurer.

The First Annual Conference

The first of these was held on 15th October 1981 when 85 branches had joined the national organisation and membership was about 5,760.

The Logo

At the 2nd Conference in 1982, when over 200 members attended. A competition to find a logo for the Fellowship resulted in the now well known logo, which is still in use today, being chosen from 20 designs. It was entered by the Dundee Branch.


If you would like a more detailed account of how the NHSRF has progressed please visit the Central Office Website