WATCHED by disabled patients from the
windows of the old house a few yards away, the first chimney stack of the new "Le Court"— the home for chronic sick founded in 1948 by Group Captain Leonard Cheshire, .V.C.—was placed in position at an informal little ceremony last week.
Group Captain Cheshire was unable to perform or be present at the ceremony last week.
He is still in the Midhurst Sanatorium recovering from the illness and two major operations which have kept him in bed since August last year.
The £65,000 needed to rebuild this remarkable centre. which was in danger of falling down, was provided by the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust. Marshal of the R.A.F. Lord Tedder laid the foundation stone on June 20.
The steady progress of the two homes, St. Teresa's on a bleak, exposed Cornish heath near the Lizard, and Le Court, has been maintained despite the absence of the man who was their mainstay and inspiration.
The Carnegie trustees were deeply impressed by the ideals and achievements of Le Court, whose 32 patients —men and women, young and old, all suffering from severe disabling complaints and with no relatives or friends to look after them outside— have always been encouraged to live as full lives as possible.
The trustees felt that the grant of £65,000 was a small price to pay for constructing a special building to rehouse "Cheshire's family," and to serve as a model for similar ventures elsewhere.
Though the handsome red-brick, two-storey shell of the new Le Court is now nearly built, much remains to be done, before it is officially opened.
Group Captain Cheshire and his fellow-trustees of the Cheshire Foundation have to find at least 13,000 to furnish and equip it
Catholics in the district are helping. Some contribute each week to a fund earmarked for Le Court. Many non-Catholics arc also giving what aid they can in money, goods or voluntary work.
To bring in others who have not seen but only read and marvelled at the extraordinary post-war mission for the sick of the convert V.C. and his associates, a simple scheme has just been devised.
People are invited to become "Friends of Le Court" by signing a covenant subscription form, an ordinary banker's order form, or by sending a gift, big or small. The advantage of the covenant scheme is that the donor does not pay income tax on the amount pledged and it is given to the home.
A heavy mortgage on the ramshackle house where Group Captain Cheshire took in and nursed till death his first patient has still to be paid off.
I asked Mr. Man Finch, Warden of Lt Court and secretary of the trustees, how the funds stand for Christmas.
"There isn't much in that particular kitty," he said. "At the moment it seems to he a straight choice between an austerity Christmas or being in the red at the bank. But we're not worried. People are good, and Le Court was never forgotten even in its leanest days."