A CHARITY bank is supporting the £1.1m refurbishment of Lady Lumley’s Almshouses in Thornton-le-Dale.

The Grade II listed almshouses, which were built as a gift to the village from Elizabeth, Viscountess Lumley of Waterford, in 1670, has borrowed £500,000 from Charity Bank to help fund refurbishment of its 12 properties.

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) has awarded the project a £481,000 grant and the almshouses will fund the balance from its cash reserves. Work is scheduled to finish in the autumn, when the residents will move back in from their temporary accommodation.

Charity Bank is an ethical bank that lends savings from individuals and institutions to charities and other social sector organisations to help them enrich and improve society.

Jeremy Ince, regional lending manager, said: “Although it is small, the Lady Lumley’s Almshouses charity has a significant positive impact on the quality of life for residents.

“As well as providing accommodation for elderly residents of the area, the charity provides them with wider help and support. Trustees visit residents regularly and provide friendship and assistance.”

David Fitzgerald, chairman of Lady Lumley’s Almshouses, said: “The almshouses needed complete refurbishment and renovation to ensure that they continue to provide an acceptable living standard for our residents, whom we consulted at length to make sure we understood what they wanted.

“The accommodation is being completely remodelled to make better use of the space.

“We are damp-proofing the older building, adding new living and kitchen extension to each house as well as a new bathroom and new heating and plumbing. We are also landscaping to provide level access to the rear.”

Mr Fitzgerald said one of the main changes involved moving the living rooms from the front to the back of the building so that residents can look out onto their gardens.

“However, despite all the changes, Broadacres Housing Association, which is managing this project on our behalf, and Bramhall Blenkharn Architects have designed a scheme that is in keeping with the historic nature of the almshouses.

“They have worked within the existing shell of the building and designed a sympathetic extension, which will give residents the feeling of space while ensuring they have a home that is fit for purpose and that will meet the needs of future generations.”

Mr Fitzgerald said the organisation was grateful to the Charity Bank for their support.

“They have worked alongside us to help make this project happen and they understood it was not just about creating functional dwellings, but creating homes where residents would feel happy, safe and comfortable,” he added.