|The Rushden Echo and Argus, 17th May 1957, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Donor opens new home
“A wonderful gesture and an example of public spirit”. This was the tribute paid by Ald. Ewart Marlow, Northamptonshire County Council chairman, at Rushden on Wednesday afternoon, when Mr. W. J. A. Peck, a local county councillor, opened “Risdene,” a house he purchased and presented to the public authorities as a home for old people.
Next door to Mr. Peck’s own home, “Risdene,” has been enlarged and fitted out by the County Council at a cost of £16,000. Formerly called “The Shrubbery,” it will accommodate more than thirty men and women.
DONOR of "Risdene," the house now converted into an
old people's home for Rushden and Higham Ferrers, Mr. Will Peck (standing, right centre) has a light-hearted chat after yesterday's opening ceremony with his wife (centre), and friends. Left are Mr. F. F. Parsons, chairman of the County Welfare Committee, and Mrs. Parsons; seated right is the County Council Chairman, Ald. Ewart Murlow.
Presiding at the ceremony that seventy guests attended in the dining room was Mr. F. F. Parsons, chairman of the County Welfare Committee, who wondered how many of those present were disinterestedly high-minded and how many were looking round with a view to booking a bed for themselves.
“You could do a lot worse” he declared.
One of the most rewarding works of his committee, said Mr. Parsons, was in connection with the old folk’s homes where people seemed contented with their lot and lived a much better life than some of them could have known before.
Cheaper to Adapt
“I have read criticism of spending money on existing houses,” he continued. “The critics say we should build from scratch, but they are wrong. It is cheaper to adapt than to build from scratch, and it is always a pleasant situation in a garden. Everywhere we have gone so far we have been able to find an existing place and develop it.”
After a prayer of dedication by the Rev. I. E. Douglas-Jones, rector of St. Mary’s, Rushden, the chairman asked “the very generous Mr. Bill Peck” to open the house.
Mr. Peck said it was a red letter day for him and, he was sure his family. He hoped it would prove in due time to be one for other people in Rushden and Higham Ferrers.
It was to youth that they looked for their cultural, scientific and economic progress, but they had a Christian responsibility to those who had served their day and generation.
Mr. Peck said it was about three years ago that he first discussed Rushden’s need of a home with Mr. Abbott, the county welfare officer. He was told of the difficulty of finding sites, and when “The Shrubbery” came onto the market he felt it was an opportunity Rushden should not miss.
Relating the subsequent progress of the scheme, Mr. Peck told of a hold-up by the “Credit Squeeze” and of a successful deputation to the Ministry. He told the guests: “Now we have this home, and I am sure that when you have inspected it you will be as proud of it as I am.”
The success of the home would, to a large extent, depend on the matron and her staff, the co-operation of the people who came to live, and the goodwill of the people of Rushden and Higham Ferrers. A television set had been promised by the ladies of the Round Tablers, and he knew there would be many other offers.
Ald. Ewart Marlow, chairman of the County Council, pointed out that Mr. Peck’s example had proved to be catching, for they knew what happened at Wellingborough.
Thanking Mr. Peck for his great benevolence and public spirit and Mrs. Peck for her goodwill, he spoke of the pleasure they would derive from looking over the garden wall and seeing the old people living in comfort. Everyone who walked through the door was going to say “Thank you,” and no one could have greater reward than that.
“A lot of people,” said Mr. Marlow, “say we spend a lot of money on the old people. And why shouldn’t we? They deserve the best after the heat and burden of the day. It costs £550 a bed, and if we erected a home it would cost £1,400 per bed.
Better Than Parting
“It is keeping the old folks in the area in which they have spent their life and in which they have their children and friends. It is better than sending a car to take them away and better than the parting of husband and wife, one to go one way and one another.”
Seconding a vote of thanks that Mr. Marlow proposed, Mrs. W. M. Lean, vice-chairman of Rushden Urban Council, described the house as “lovely.” The name “Risdene,” she said, was a very happy choice; it meant a wooded valley, and they still had the valley, if the trees were fast disappearing.
The house was comfortably furnished, and she thought it was now up to Rushden people to furnish the garden with seats and perhaps a revolving summer-house.
Like An Hotel
Visitors inspecting the house found two large sitting rooms, a smaller one, staff rooms and, on both main floors, bedrooms for two, three and four people. Admiring the furnishings and colour schemes, some declared the house to be “like an hotel.” They found the garden well laid out and containing a newly paved terrace.
Mr. A. N. Harris, the county architect, placed Mr. John Neville, formerly of Rushden, in oversight of the work.
Miss I. D. Mitchell, a State-enrolled assistant nurse formerly at Park hospital, Wellingborough, has been appointed matron, with Mrs. Gold, formerly of Ringstead, as assistant matron. The first residents will arrive in about a fortnight.