Admiralty House Park, the Group’s swan song
The Group was a rehabilitation centre set up by the Government in the late 1960s at Admiralty House to combat drug abuse across the island.
However, the programme waned, and visionaries such as the recently deceased Stuart Hayward, the environmentalist, social critic and forthright thinker, joined the Group and changed its focus to community service.
At about 1975-76, prospectors saw Admiralty House as open space ripe for commercial redevelopment. Except, providence had Joyce Hall teaming up with Stuart Hayward, Chandler McIvor, Fred Hassell and a unified cadre of supporters to save the estate for public recreation.
Chandler McIvor, journalist, philanthropist and environmentalist, followed Stuart Hayward as director and transitioned the organisation into the Admiralty House Community Centre at the demise of the Group. The crowning achievement of AHCC was the creation and development of the Bermuda Senior Islanders' Centre.
Sadly, in 2004 after 30 years of serving the public, the buildings housing AHCC were condemned and bulldozed, thus ending its operation. The ballroom, saved for redevelopment, was once a social hive for children's camps and community events, and remains derelict.
Notwithstanding AHCC's closure, BSIC continued in Admiralty House Park under my leadership for 44 years in the refurbished Admiralty Stables.
BSIC co-ordinated affiliated groups with eclectic names such as Senior Islanders Luncheon, Crafty Bunch, Young at Heart, Golden Hour, Happy Seniors, Hamilton-Smith's, St John's Friendship, Having Your Say, Sunshine, RAA, Smiling Glee, Joy Club, Each One Teach One, Season Seniors, Mount Zion Senior Circle, Special Peoples, Warwick Group, BIU, 50 Plus, Crown of Glory, Senior Circle, Admiralty House Men's Group, Island Wide Committee, Computer and Common Stock Investors Clubs. At times combined membership of the groups fluctuated between 400 and 500.
Regrettably, the Government’s cumulative grant cuts and declining corporate donations precipitated BSIC’s closure in 2019. The organisation transferred its assets to Age Concern: minivan, furnishings, assorted appliances, maintenance supplies, gerontology library and petty cash.
Albeit we lament the closure of the Bermuda Senior Islanders’ Centre, but advocacy on behalf of seniors goes on with Age Concern, which is housed in Admiralty House Park.