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Willard Home turns 51

Willard Home turns 51

Enliven's Willard Home in Palmerston North.
Enliven’s Willard Home in Palmerston North.

Enliven’s Willard Home in Palmerston North is about to celebrate its 51st birthday, but what is now a home for elders used to be a home for children.

Established in 1920, Willard was originally a children’s home and orphanage.

The Willard Children’s Home, formerly in Fitzherbert Avenue, was run by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and named after the union’s founder, Frances Elizabeth-Willard.

Willard Children’s Home moved to Russell Street in 1928 to accommodate more children; the same site where Willard Home sits today.

Enid Fowles, a resident of Willard Home’s sister-site, Coombrae Home in Feilding, says her husband William Fowles, known as Bill, lived at Willard from the age of 15 months right up until he was 18 years old.

“His family wasn’t able to look after him at the time, so he lived at the children’s home until he was too old to live there anymore.”

Enid says her husband told her they were some of the best years of his life.

“He didn’t think living in a children’s home was bad at all, he enjoyed growing up there. He used to talk about his time at Willard a lot and he seemed to have nothing but good memories from there.”

Bill built strong relationships with the staff at Willard during his time there.

“He used to talk about a member of the staff at the children’s home, Mrs Pearce. She was one of the first residents at Willard Home when it changed to a rest home.”

Willard Children’s Home and Orphanage was closed in 1961 and the trustees asked Presbyterian Support Central to take over the buildings and land.

Presbyterian Support Central opened Willard Home for older people on 18 April 1964, becoming the second aged care facility established in Palmerston North.

Today, Enliven’s Willard Home, located at 17 Russell Street in Palmerston North, offers rest home, respite and convalescent care.

Willard’s sister-site, Coombrae Home, located at 34 North Street in Feilding, offers rest home, dementia, respite and convalescent care. For more information about Willard Home or Coombrae Home call 0800 36 54 83 or click here. 

One Response to Willard Home turns 51

  1. My father Jack/John Gray was one of the original orphans in the home. He was there from 1920 to 1929. Why – he never knew, as he had no knowledge of his parents or why he had to be in there. He too often spoke fondly of the matrons – Ms Pearce and Ms Anderson. If only the records could be found of the “inmates” and there stay there, so many questions could be answered.


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