The Wilson Home Trust's History
Mr & Mrs W R Wilson gifted their family home, St Leonard’s, and 13 acres of magnificent coastal gardens, for the benefit of children with disabilities. The Wilsons were inspired by Dr Bernard Myers who described the new trends in treating children with polio and other disabilities. Myers identified that the ideal situation for the care of the children was a ‘garden hospital’ in a home like environment.
Lord Nuffield, founder of Morris Motors, contributed £10,000 to the endowment fund. Mr & Mrs Wilson matched this sum and stipulated that an endowment be raised to ensure that their home was not to be used for any other purpose. The Wilson Home was designated as a place of convalescence and therapeutic rehabilitation for children and as an official child disability charity.
Mr W R Wilson signed a deed placing St Leonard’s home under control of the Auckland Hospital Board. A polio epidemic throughout New Zealand meant they were desperate for accommodation for children affected by polio. On August 27, 25 children arrived by ambulance, supported by 22 staff.
Children were evacuated to Otahuhu School due to the threat of war.
Bruce McLaren was admitted to the Wilson Home for treatment and a spot of trolley racing with the other boys. McLaren Memories by Eoin Young.
Polio vaccines and the introduction of antibiotics meant that the devastating effects of many conditions no longer affected children.
Chapel of St Leonard designed in a competition to mark the 25th anniversary of The Wilson Home. The non denominational chapel was constructed and dedicated in 1966.
The Recreation Hall opened. Increasingly, children received therapy as out-patients, others were transferred to Eastern Bays Hostel to gain more independence.
The Ronald Caughey Assessment Centre was opened to house outpatient clinics, a hydrotherapy pool and therapy gyms.
Accommodation for children who receive overnight respite care was built with the assistance of a Telethon Grant.
The Volunteer Gardeners Group started and continues to thrive.
The Trust Deed was amended to encompass the facilitation of educational, social and health services throughout the Trust’s area.
The new Wilson School building was opened and won the Public Architecture Award and the National Architecture Medal in 2009 and the Asia Pacific Architecture Award in 2010.
The historic cottage on the corner of Lake Road and St Leonards Road was re-sited, restored and the Trust administration moved in. The Wilson Home Trust established an archive collection at Auckland Public Libraries.
The Wilson Home Trust Grants Programme was established. The purpose of the grants are to enhance the life of children and young people with a physical disability.
Three purpose designed family accommodation units were completed.
The Summerhouse opened after extensive restoration work. Renovations of The Bach for parent accommodation were completed.
An interactive sound sculpture designed by Phil Dadson was installed. Sheep sculptures painted by children and Knitty Graffity created Wilson Woolly Park.
Coastal revegetation project. 1,000 native plants were planted by the Women’s Outdoor Pursuits and other volunteers. This project was supported by an Auckland Council Environmental Initiative Grant.
Vivint USA selected Wilson Centre to receive a $15,000 makeover and provided 45 volunteers over two days. The Trust has provided an all-weather roof and upgrade of children’s play areas.
The Wilson Home Trust grants programme is reviewed, and monthly grant funding rounds are introduced.