WE ARE celebrating 40 years of the Aldingbourne Trust.
The trust is an enterprising and award-winning charity based in West Sussex that really engages with the people we support, visitors and supporters, enabling people with learning disabilities to have the same opportunities as everyone else.
In 1978, Mavis Miles, Susan Evershed & Paddy Whiteside all had a similar issue – their sons were at Lufton Manor, near Yeovil – a Mencap rural training unit for boys in their last two years of schooling.
With no suitable funding or workplace opportunities available, they made the heroic decision to ‘go it alone’ despite having no experience of training or horticulture.
At the time, Surrey Health Authority was using Aldingbourne House as a 60-bed holiday home for patients with a learning disability and site had plenty of land. Mavis contacted the authority and it agreed to lease 15 acres of land to the parents for 12 years.
Paddy Whiteside became chairman of the new charity, Aldingbourne Country Centre, and Frank Harfield, who was a member of Chichester Lions, joined to oversee its finances and accounting. With support from Chichester Lions, Mencap, the round table, the Basil Shippam Trust and West Sussex County Council, the Charity was formed.
Planning approval for the centre was granted on October 4, 1978, and on December 4, 1978, manager David Booth and the first five trainees – Robert Miles, Barnaby Evershed, Paul Dunne, Graeme Bradford and Ian Bant took possession of the site under a blanket of snow!
In 1979, Len Dixey, a self-employed builder and then local Mencap treasurer, visited the site to advise on a trench being dug to access mains water from the A27.
During that visit, Len was persuaded to join the team and he stayed until his retirement in 2006.
Follow the monthly blog to see the next few years of the trust and how far we have come.
For more information, please visit our website: aldingbournetrust.co.uk