The Wilson Home Trust's History



1935

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.

1937

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.

1941-1943

Children were evacuated to Otahuhu School due to the threat of war.

1948-1950

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.

1950s-60s

Polio vaccines and the introduction of antibiotics meant that the devastating effects of many conditions no longer affected children.

1964-1966

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.

1970s

The Recreation Hall opened. Increasingly, children received therapy as out-patients, others were transferred to Eastern Bays Hostel to gain more independence.

1977

The Ronald Caughey Assessment Centre was opened to house outpatient clinics, a hydrotherapy pool and therapy gyms.

1983

Accommodation for children who receive overnight respite care was built with the assistance of a Telethon Grant.

1996

The Volunteer Gardeners Group started and continues to thrive.

1999

The Trust Deed was amended to encompass the facilitation of educational, social and health services throughout the Trust’s area.

2008

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.

2009

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.

2011

Three purpose designed family accommodation units were completed.

2012

The Summerhouse opened after extensive restoration work. Renovations of The Bach for parent accommodation were completed.

2013

An interactive sound sculpture designed by Phil Dadson was installed. Sheep sculptures painted by children and Knitty Graffity created Wilson Woolly Park.

2013-2014

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.

2015

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.

2017

The Wilson Home Trust grants programme is reviewed, and monthly grant funding rounds are introduced.

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