Some of the terms in the following text are now not politically correct but at the time these words were commonplace and meant no offence. During the 1990s the Trustees took the decision to change the name of the fund to The Hoskyn Centre for the Disabled.
During his time at St Cross Dr Hoskyn devoted an increasing amount of time to rehabilitation. He began work in an open shed, but this soon gave way to a wooden hut, which in 1932 was replaced by the Sun Pavilion.
In 1926 he founded Rugby Orthopaedic Clinic to treat disabled children and assist disabled adults, but with the passing of the National Health Act in 1948 the clinic became redundant. Dr Hoskyn and the team he had assembled to run the clinic then transferred their efforts to fundraising for what became known as The Hoskyn Cripples’ Fund. Dr Hoskyn felt that under the new Health Scheme the personal touch had been completely lost, and he commented on the fact that by 1950 only three voluntary organisations were still in being i.e. for the blind, the old and the crippled.
Mr Rowan Mitchell suggested that a Cripples’ Guild, or register of cripples, should be set up and run by the users themselves and a search for suitable premises was begun.
Before the war Hamilton House at 12 Bilton Road, (our current base) was used as a home for unmarried mothers and their babies, during the war it became a children’s home and after the war it reverted to being a home for unmarried mothers and their offspring.
It so happened that a member of the hostel committee, Dr D J Jones, Medical Officer of Health for Rugby, was also a member of the Hoskyn Cripples’ Fund Committee and when lack of funds forced the home to close and transfer its inhabitants to another town, he arranged for Dr Hoskyn and his team to take over the premises. Thus in autumn 1952, the Hoskyn Centre opened its doors for the first time.
THE EARLY DAYS
A resident caretaker was installed in the newly acquired building and disabled people began to attend afternoon classes. The classes, all run by committee members and volunteers, offered training in crafts and occupational skills. Twenty four adults and fourteen children are reported to have taken part in the first year.
Numbers attending the centre slowly increased and in 1954 an occupational therapist, Mrs Ruth Daltry, joined the team. The following year a carpenter was recruited.
It was soon felt desirable to develop a social life for the group but there was not sufficient space. There was however a garden and in 1954 plans were made to build an extension “to provide a meeting place for all disabled persons.” The extension was opened in 1956 by Sir Harry Platt, president of the Royal College of Surgeons and a social committee was formed shortly afterwards. The social committee was made up of disabled members plus two members of the Management Committee. It met once a month and arranged a programme of concerts, competitions and parties, which meant that the hall was very busy on Saturday evenings.
Transportation for both craft sessions and social gatherings was provided by County and St John’s Ambulances.
In his President’s report at the AGM of March 1957 Dr Hoskyn thanked the Trustees of Hamilton House for the transference of the building to the Hoskyn Cripples’ Fund. This gave them a secure future in their own building.
Dr Hoskyn always saw the centre as a resource for all disabled people and over the years it has accommodated groups such as The Spastic Parents’ Association, the blind, a lip reading class, the MS Group and Disability Forum. Social Services used the premises for almost 20 years to run the Sesame Group which made provision for younger disabled people. This moved to Fawsley House in Hillmorton Road as a resource centre.
A further building project was undertaken in 1959/60. This added a woodwork room leading from the hall and a double garage at the rear of the property and in effect gave us the building we have today. The site was not quite wide enough to accommodate the double garage, deemed necessary to provide cover for wheelchairs, and so a very good neighbour, Miss Mary M Tams of Starborough House 10 Bilton Road, gave 380 sq. yards of her garden to make the project achievable.
We, like most small charities, have lost all our grants and although we are lucky to own the premises we are constantly looking at ways to raise money to keep going.