The flower foundation of Zimbabwe

BLUE KERRY – 50 years on

By Les Mallett

Nestled in the quiet leafy suburb of Chisipite along Steppes Road is a property known as Blue Kerry. It was initially acquired in the early 1930s by Jed Bernard upon his arrival from Cape Town. The original blueprints for the Main House (now the Community Centre) show that they were drawn in 1935, and much of its woodwork and structure was reportedly completed by Jed himself.

In the early 1960s, Jed and his second wife Viola decided that they would “leave Blue Kerry to be a home for old people”.  After the death of Jed in 1965, The Flower Foundation Residential Club of Rhodesia was founded in 1968. Later becoming The Flower Foundation of Zimbabwe – Blue Kerry, the Foundation retains ownership of the cottages and leases them on a “right to occupy” basis.

The first residents of Blue Kerry moved into the Main House on 1st May 1973. Just two years later, construction of 20 cottages was completed in June 1975 while the Care Wing was completed in 1992. Thereafter two more en suite rooms were added with financial assistance from the Beit Trust. Additional cottages were built between 1991 and 2014 which brought the total to 30 of which 22 are single cottages and 8 are double cottages. The singles have one en suite bedroom, modern kitchens, lounge/dining room and a veranda.  The doubles have two bedrooms and other additions completed by the resident. All of the cottages have car ports and their own small gardens which are tended by the residents and Blue Kerry staff. 

The residents of the Care Wing and the Main House pay an “all in” monthly boarding fee which includes accommodation, food, laundry, subsidised metered electricity, water, cleaning materials, and resident nurse aides. Blue Kerry has large open manicured lawns with a croquet field and areas within the gardens for residents to move freely around in. The Community Centre has a dining room, lounge, and library for use by all residents and their guests. A recent addition is a large partly open verandah and an enclosed sun lounge. Cottage residents can order meals from the kitchen provided that prior notice is given. The property is located in close proximity to shopping complexes, cinemas, medical emergency and other facilities.

Based on a guiding age range of 65-80 years, the current residents are between 65-90 years old.  All potential residents are required to undergo an interview and provide a medical certificate of good health. Applications are currently being accepted and are placed on a waiting list. Those on the waiting list are contacted by Blue Kerry staff on at least an annual basis to ascertain whether they still require accommodation.

Today, The Flower Foundation of Zimbabwe is still the owner of Blue Kerry and the affairs of the Foundation are managed by an annually elected Management Committee which has the interests of Blue Kerry and its residents at heart. Some of the committee members are established business people of which the majority are not residents at Blue Kerry. This helps to ensure independent financial governance.

Photographs provided by Kundai Chihambakwe

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