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Nightingale Hammerson remembers Asher Corren z”l

19 Jun 2024

It is with great sadness that we learn of the passing of our hugely respected and much loved former Executive Director, Asher Corren z”l. Asher believed in everything that our charity stands for and he always ensured all Residents received the excellent care for which we are well known.

Asher Corren was born in Poland and at a young age, the family moved to Israel. In his early 20’s he came to London after seeing a job advertised in ‘The Jewish Agency’.  Soon after, in 1962, he came to work for ‘The Home for Aged Jews’, the predecessor to Nightingale Hammerson as we are known today. Asher went on to spend his entire career with Nightingale, until his retirement in 1997.

His great vision for our charity and deep affiliation with older people drove Nightingale’s innovation in the care of older people. His vision was indeed revolutionary. In those days care was, for want of a better word, quite basic; people were fed, bathed, supported to go to the bathroom and not much more. Asher, however, knew that good care was so much more than this.  He introduced Nightingale’s new Arts & Crafts Centre and employed the first ever Activities Manager; such a role had not existed before. Asher knew there was much more that could be done to provide good care and ultimately enhance a Resident’s quality of life. He knew Residents should be kept occupied, be entertained and continue to enjoy living their lives.

The trustees seemingly received a great amount of pressure to develop and provide better accommodation, facilities and to allow space and investment for activities. Asher believed this would enable the provision of better care and ultimately enhance a Resident’s happiness and provide a better quality of life. This is an obvious notion today but was not a priority or even expected in the care sector back then.

A great part of Asher’s role was linked to fundraising, in which he excelled. His naturally extroverted character, matched with great social skills meant he could work well with trustees and the wider community for the charity’s vital fundraising drives. Fundraising was crucial for his delivery of good care and to ensure the future of Nightingale. This is one of the reasons we now stand as a leader in our field on the international stage.

His work with Nightingale will always be remembered with great fondness. We are immensely grateful for his strong leadership and for putting Residents’ well-being and their families at the forefront of care. ‘Residents first’ continues to be our driving force.

Although Asher retired over 25 years ago, some of our longer serving staff members remember him well and with great affection. Reflections include that “he was a good, good man – he truly believed in Nightingale”, “he was firm, but extremely fair” and “he knew every one of the Residents, of whom there were nearly 400 in those days, and the Staff members well – he cared and took an interest in each one of them.”

One of our current Residents at Nightingale House, Frankie, worked as Asher’s secretary at Nightingale House many years ago.  She remembers him extremely fondly, saying “Asher was an incredibly good person; he made Nightingale a friendly and homely place for everyone. I was very happy working with him and am so sad to hear he is no longer with us.

Asher once approached a current Staff member and asked if he were a drinker, to which he replied he was not. Asher then put him in charge of the weekly Guinness delivery, kept under lock & key in the basement. His task was to serve this to the Residents each Friday. It seemed Asher didn’t miss a trick.

With a huge amount of reverence, Asher Corren was the best advocate for the Residents. The community’s older people were safe in his hands. From all of us at Nightingale Hammerson, for steering our charity with strength and decency, and in the words of our team that remember him well, “Thank you for everything you have done.”