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Published on: 13 November, 2013

Celia Worthington, a volunteer for Abbeyfield UK (NI) Ltd, a charity that provides supported sheltered housing for older people, is one of just seven people chosen from 10,500 UK volunteers for recognition in Abbeyfield’s prestigious 2013 Royal Patron’s awards, which is endorsed by HRH Prince of Wales.

Abbeyfield & Wesley Celia Worthington receives award from Baroness Dean 081113

Commenting on the award, Geraldine Gilpin, Chief Executive, Abbeyfield & Wesley Housing Association, said: “Celia, who lives in Bangor, Co.Down, has been a volunteer with Abbeyfield in Northern Ireland since 1998, when she served as a board member of Abbeyfield NI Development Society.  In January 2003, she was appointed Chair and later that year oversaw a merger which brought together 16 member societies to form Abbeyfield UK (NI) Ltd. This consolidated operations and the transition enabled the improvement of facilities, with the complete rebuilding of three houses and major refurbishments carried out on a further four.

“In 2011, as Chair, Celia asked the board to consider a merger with Wesley Housing Association.  With the support of her leadership and enthusiasm the merger progressed and was completed earlier this year.  As a result, the number of properties operated by the association doubled and for the first time Abbeyfield now also has care home provision.”

Geraldine adds: “Despite heavy business commitments Celia is giving of her time, knowledge and expertise.  Her energy and enthusiasm is infectious and she genuinely cares for residents and is constantly considering options to improve services.  She truly deserves this accolade and on behalf of the organization I would just like to take this opportunity to thank her and all our volunteers for their ongoing commitment and dedication.  They play an instrumental role in Abbeyfield & Wesley Housing Association and we are very grateful to them.”

Independent MP, Lady Hermon, who endorsed Celia’s nomination for a Royal Patron’s Award, reflected upon Celia’s commitment and dedication to Abbeyfield: “I’m overjoyed that Celia’s tremendous contribution to Abbeyfield has been publicly recognised in this manner.  As the MP for North Down, I have had the opportunity to meet Celia at several events held to mark both the expansion and improvement of Abbeyfield’s housing provision in the constituency, and also to recognise its excellent training programme for staff working with dementia sufferers.

“I really have nothing but praise and tremendous admiration for the leadership, vision, care and compassion of Celia Worthington.  She is truly deserving of a Royal Patron’s award, though knowing Celia as I do, I believe she would be the very last person to expect any such recognition.”

Upon receiving the award Celia, a solicitor and partner with Belfast-based Worthingtons Solicitors, said: “I am absolutely thrilled to receive this award and do so on behalf of myself, the board of Abbeyfield & Wesley in Northern Ireland, and all our staff and volunteers who are committed and dedicated to improving the lives of our residents.

“Abbeyfield is a unique organisation insofar as it strives to provide supported living for older people in comfortable, family-style accommodation, freed up from the stresses of maintaining a house and garden, and with the added benefit of the provision of meals and companionship. Our recent and successful merger with Wesley has double the size of the organisation, introduced the provision of care for those with dementia and enabled the Society to go forward on a strong basis.  I thoroughly enjoy my role as volunteer and am delighted to receive the prestigious recognition of the Society’s work.”

Abbeyfield & Wesley Housing Association provide a complete range of housing options for older people – independent living for older people in sheltered housing with scheme supervisors; supported sheltered housing which has higher staffing levels and provision of meals; and residential care which is staffed 24 hours a day.


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Notes to Editors:

Biography – Celia Worthington

Celia Worthington was admitted as a solicitor in 1984 having obtained her law degree from WarwickUniversity followed by completion of the legal practice course at Chester. She trained with Eversheds Solicitors in their Birmingham office where she remained for four years post qualification within the corporate finance department.

Celia returned to the Province in 1989 to join one of Northern Ireland’s leading practices where she remained as a partner until she joined Worthingtons as a partner in February 2006.

Celia specialises in commercial property, banking, telecoms and corporate and commercial law. She advises a number of UK wide corporate clients and well known local charities and was Chairperson of Abbeyfield UK(NI) Ltd, a local housing association, from 2003 until March 2013.

Celia is married to Huw, the firm’s founding partner, and together they have three children.

Background – Abbeyfield & Wesley Housing Association

Abbeyfield & Wesley Housing Association was announced earlier this year (April 2013) following the merger of two leading local housing associations : Abbeyfield UK (NI), a charity providing supported sheltered housing for older people in comfortable, family-style accommodation for seven to ten residents, and Wesley Housing Association, which provides and manages quality and affordable social housing as well as care and support services to people in need.

Abbeyfield & Wesley Housing Association is responsible for a total of 321 housing units, with the potential to house over 400 residents across Northern Ireland.

Wesley Housing operated 95 sheltered housing units (flats and bungalows) located in East Antrim and Belfast, 25 general needs units, and Palmerston, a Residential/EMI Care Home in Belfast for 38 residents (20 dementia and 18 residential places).

This range of housing is now complemented by the 18 supported sheltered houses for 163 residents, which Abbeyfield UK (NI) manages in locations throughout Northern Ireland.

The new organisation, Abbeyfield & Wesley Housing Association, will provide a more complete range of housing options for older people – independent living for older people in sheltered housing with scheme supervisors; supported sheltered housing which has higher staffing levels and provision of meals; and residential care which is staffed 24 hours a day.


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