At Abbeyfield we believe that volunteers are the lifeblood of our organisation, and our houses and homes across the country are incredibly grateful for the support they receive from individuals who give their time to supporting our residents and staff.

Frank Musker is one of the incredible volunteers who has given his time to Abbeyfield, among other local charities, for over 25 years. Frank has been volunteering at his local Abbeyfield houses, with longstanding support for Abbeyfield House in Ulverston, which provides sheltered housing for 16 residents. Frank also sits on the Board of Trustees of Staveley House, a residential care home in Dalton-in-Furness, and has supported Alexander House in Bootle, and Bolton Lodge and Proctor House in Bolton le Sands.

Volunteering with Abbeyfield

Frank’s volunteering story with Abbeyfield began when his mother became a resident at Abbeyfield House in Ulverston 28 years ago. In his role as a volunteer he has helped to maintain the buildings in order to keep the residents, staff, volunteers and visitors safe.

Debbie McGuire, Senior House Manager at Abbeyfield House, said, “Frank has terrific knowledge of the local area am I am grateful to him for supporting me a lot in my early days at Abbeyfield and teaching me the ropes. He has made a real difference here. He worked relentlessly on the maintenance side, and he threw himself into all sorts of jobs, saving us thousands of pounds. He also gave us his time generously in other areas over the years, working to solve all sorts of problems and help us to deliver the best possible service.”

In addition to the maintenance work he has done on Abbeyfield House, Frank and his wife Jean have provided invaluable support with the planning and running of activities for the residents, ensuring that they have a vibrant and active social calendar. As well as helping to organise the activities in the house, Frank would often volunteer as a driver for outings and trips that were organised for the residents.

"In my view what I do is to keep the building up to scratch from a maintenance point of view by correcting or repairing small defects as they appear, before they become major expensive issues. In addition, I try to help all residents with minor problems, and to treat them all as equal when listening to their problems or perceived problems. My wife is the one who prepares the monthly activities, mostly for Friday afternoons, in which my input or participation is sometimes required. I prepare the monthly programme and distribute it to the residents. Very occasionally we do teas for the residents, but this only means putting out the individual tea plates prepared by the staff and making the tea and pouring it out.”


As well as helping at Abbeyfield houses, Frank is a well-respected member of the local community in Ulverston. He has helped to raise Abbeyfield House’s profile in the area through his involvement with the local church and the Gentlemen’s Probate Group, which has increased the house’s visibility and standing and has been a key factor in sustaining its high levels of occupancy.

Not wanting to miss an opportunity to welcome others into the Abbeyfield Family, Frank would regularly invite older people from the community to experience a coffee morning or activity, who would typically then enquire about becoming a resident themselves.

Recognition for his volunteering

Because of Frank’s dedication to Abbeyfield, he was honoured with a Royal Patron’s Award at a ceremony at the Abbey House Hotel in Furness Abbey. Staff, residents and volunteers from the Abbeyfield houses where Frank has helped over the years attended, along with members of his family, and Lady Cavendish of Holker Hall – herself a keen Abbeyfield supporter – who presented the Award to Frank.

Diane Dyke, a member of Abbeyfield North Property Team, who nominated Frank for his Award, said, “Despite the vital support Frank provides to the various houses and the high esteem in which he is held, Frank remains the most courteous, personable and professional man anyone could ever wish to meet. It is truly wonderful to see such a dedicated, loyal and loved volunteer be recognised for the incredible dedication and service he has provided to Abbeyfield for over a quarter of the century.”

Frank said, “I was very surprised when I received a phone call saying I would be awarded the Royal Patron’s Award, and then a letter asking if I would accept it. Although I can think of other people who are just as, or possibly more, deserving than me, it is of course a great accolade that I am honoured to accept.”

Interested in becoming a trustee or volunteer?

Trustees and volunteers play an important part in our home and becoming one can be such a rewarding way to make a difference.

Contact our volunteering team
Interested in becoming a trustee or volunteer? Image
Interested in becoming a trustee or volunteer? Image

Read more volunteering stories

Inspirational Abbeyfield volunteer recognised in Queen's Birthday Honours Image

Inspirational Abbeyfield volunteer recognised in Queen's Birthday Honours

Jim Thompson, an inspirational volunteer who has dedicated much of his adult life to serving his community – including his local Abbeyfield Society care home – says he feels “incredibly honoured and humbled” to have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

A day in the life of an Abbeyfield Volunteer Image

A day in the life of an Abbeyfield Volunteer

Sandra Dil is a Volunteer at our Esk Moors Lodge sheltered housing scheme in Castleton, near Whitby. She has been involved with Abbeyfield for an incredible 20 years, providing vital support to the residents and staff there.

Cathy's Volunteer Story Image

Cathy's Volunteer Story

As part of International Volunteer Day, we spoke to Cathy Earl who volunteers at Speedwell Court, to find out a little more about her and her experience as a volunteer.