Award-winning care group to take over farm charity’s ‘flagship’ home

A three-year project to update and develop Manson House in Bury St Edmunds was completed in 2015

Manson House in Bury St Edmunds is to be sold to Stow Healthcare. The decision to sell the property met with fierce criticism from some of RABI's local fundraisers and supporters in 2021 - Credit: Gregg Brown

A farm charity which controversially decided to sell a “flagship” Suffolk care home has announced its new owners.

The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) is selling Manson House in Bury St Edmunds to family-run Suffolk business Stow Healthcare.

The multi-award-winning regional care homes group – based near Bury St Edmunds and owned by the Catchpole family – cares for more than 330 residents across its six residential and nursing homes in Suffolk, Norfolk, and Essex. Three of them are rated outstanding by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), and the business recently scooped Care Group of the Year titles at two national sector awards events.

The business was launched on the family farm in 2010 when the Catchpoles decided to take over Stowlangtoft care home. 

RABI came under fire from local fundraisers and supporters in March 2021 when it announced its decision to sell Manson House along with Beaufort House in Somerset after an 18-month review. But it said it wanted to use its resources to provide as much support as possible to the farming community and the number of retired farming people being supported at both homes had declined.

RABI chief executive Alicia Chivers said the choice of the new owners followed an “exhaustive” process to secure the best buyer.

“We are confident that the wealth of experience and ethos of Stow Healthcare will offer an exceptional level of care and support to the residents and tenants at the home,” she said.

RABI said: “Stow Healthcare prides itself on high-quality, family and community-focused care. The Catchpole family, who have strong links to agriculture, bring experience from their established business in the east of England, which comprises six residential and nursing homes across Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk.”

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Stow Healthcare managing director Roger Catchpole said as a farming family, they were “honoured” to be taking over the care home from the oldest agricultural charity in the UK.

“Stow Healthcare strives to be the premier provider of residential and nursing care in the East of England and we will be maintaining the incredible level of service RABI has given to the residents at Manson House,” he said.

“We endeavour to look after the staff, and believe it is very important to bring the community to our residents, by holding events where local people can get involved with the care home, and promoting jobs to local people, while continuing to develop loyal staff at Manson House.

“We will also ensure the premises is well maintained, to provide first-class living accommodation with modern amenities and technology.”

The sale is expected to be completed in August 2022, and cash raised will be used to increase its support to farming people who need care or assistance in their own homes, or through local supported care.

A RABI spokeswoman said the 48 staff at the home - which has 19 residents - are legally protected under the conditions of sale

"Continuity of the exceptional standards of care remains a key priority and RABI will work closely with Stow Healthcare to ensure a smooth transition," she said.

The sale amount was not revealed. "The terms of the sale are commercially confidential and subject to normal legal agreements at this time until all matters have been concluded," the spokeswoman said.