A CHARITY which provides retirement housing to certain groups is expanding its remit.

The Home of Devenish is a Dorset-based charity offering rent and council-tax free housing in Weymouth to single Christian women in need who are widows of officers of HM Forces or Church of England clergy.

The charity describes them as 'unsung heroes of the community' – vicars’ wives who spend their lives working seven days a week and soldiers’ wives who constantly live one step away from sacrifice.

That service has now expanded by offering the homes to include female vicars and female officers.

More than 100 women have enjoyed a coastal retirement courtesy of the charity since its foundation in 1962.

The charity has just offered a bungalow to its 101st resident – a retired woman vicar – and, unusually, there are more properties waiting to be filled.

A spokesman said: "The charity will now open its doors to a new wave of women. It used to be just widows – but times change – in 2019, Reverend Peacock or Captain Scarlet is as likely to be a Cathy as a Clive.

"Now, the Home of Devenish wants to give back to the women who are doing it for themselves – it is opening its doors to retired woman vicars or women officers, too."

The women who live in the bungalows, some with views of Portland Harbour and Weymouth Bay and each with a generous-sized kitchen and living room, a spare bedroom for family or friends to visit, and a south-facing sun room, don’t have to pay any rent or council tax – and all house and garden maintenance is arranged by the charity. The tenants just have to bring their own furniture and pay for electricity.

“We’ve been trying to get this change made for some time, and it’s brilliant that we can now offer our houses to these women who’ve given so much for their country,” said Diana Ludlow, chairman of The Home of Devenish Trust.

She added: “We’ve had women as young as 60 arrive, some still working, but some join us when they’re over 80. As long as they’re still independent, age is no barrier. We often find they get a second lease of life once they’re here. One of our women is an active member of the local sailing club and Coastwatch. Others simply enjoy the tranquility of our sites.”

For more information, visit homeofdevenish.org.uk