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Tea and company

A new project brings cheer and companionship to senior citizens

London, 25 August 2015

Tea and company: Marjorie Cole and friends

Tea and company: Marjorie Cole and new friends

In big cities, loneliness is often a problem, especially for older people who may not have family near or who live on their own. A new project recognising this need took off this summer for our senior citizens. Launched by the Companions of the Order of Malta, the programme lines up tea, sandwiches, cakes – and a pianist playing live music for the guests.

One guest who clearly enjoyed making new friends is Marjorie Cole, a former WRAC who nursed her mother and sister both of whom had cancer. She now has no immediate family and so has come to live at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea. It has been a great support: ‘I’ve never looked back,’ she says, ‘and events like these are great. I really enjoy them, as I get to meet and chat with new people.’ Catherine, 96, who lives on her own, concurs: ‘Making friends at any time is good. And I go back to Methuselah!’ she giggles. Steve Allen, a Lancastrian, also resident at the Royal Hospital, is proud of his work travelling across the world with the army and driving heavy transport – where some posts were ‘a bit hairy’ – and now is happy to have a home and the company outings like this provide.

Tea and company: Steve Allen at the Companions' project

Tea and company: Steve Allen at the Companions’ projectLocated in St Joseph’s Hall, Brompton Oratory, with the kind support of Fr.Edward van den Bergh of the Oratory Fathers, the tea parties will run on the first Wednesday afternoon of every month, collecting guests in a mini van and taking them back to their lodgings afterwards.

Tea and company: Fr Edward van den Berg chats with a guest

Tea and company: Fr Edward van den Berg chats with a guestThe Companions are a country-wide volunteer auxiliary organisation of the Order of Malta, with the same mission of helping those in need.

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The mission of the Order of Malta is inspired by its tradition of ‘Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum', to assist the poor and the sick, and bear witness to the Christian faith.


The Sovereign Order of Malta is a sovereign subject of international law. The Order - which is based in Rome, in via Condotti - has its own Government, an independent magistracy, and bilateral diplomatic relations with 110 countries.


The Order of St John of Jerusalem is one of the oldest institutions of Western and Christian civilisation. Present in Palestine in around 1048, it is a lay religious Order, traditionally of military, chivalrous, noble nature.