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The history of Ranfurly

I am pleased that Jan, my friend and colleague who has worked so tirelessly with me, has now told Ranfurly's story. Our dream of running our own Society and service has succeeded beyond our wildest dreams and materialised into a thriving reality.

We were driven by a deep conviction of injustice and of personal principles and beliefs based on freedom of choice. Families have the right to make key decisions affecting the lives of their family members without compromising lifestyle, protection and safety.

I feel privileged and humbled to be a parent who was involved from the Society's conception and then had the opportunity to manage the establishment of services we now provide to a diverse group of residents and students.

Linda Nelson, Manager

History of the Society – “Giving Families Choices” by Jan Mitchell

In the beginning

The Society was established in 1991 when a group of concerned families joined together to buy the former IHC facility in Ranfurly Road, Epsom, Auckland, to operate a Residential Home and Activity Centre on the site.

They raised the deposit to secure the $665,000 property. After several months lobbying, their bid was finally accepted and the Ranfurly Care Society became a reality. Since then, the buildings have been extensively refurbished to meet our high standards, thanks to the support and generosity of the ASB in particular, and many others.

We did not set out at the beginning to start a new Society and provide a new service, but I suppose it was inevitable that this would be the result, given the strong-minded people in the Cornwall Branch of IHC and the inflexibility of the management in Wellington .

It all began for me when I attended a family barbeque at Ranfurly (then an IHC facility), it must have been early 1989. While sitting in the sun enjoying the garden and chatting with Graeme and Hilary Reid, whose daughter Elisabeth lived there, I remarked on what a very pleasant environment this was and how my brother enjoyed being there. I was proud that my father had been involved in setting it up originally. Graeme asked if I knew it was to be sold, which came as a shock to me.

He said that most local people were not happy about it and suggested that if I did not like the idea I should join the Cornwall Branch IHC and help persuade the National Office to retain it.

Shortly after that I called to collect my daughter Alison from her friend's place and met Selena Nelson's mother, Linda, for the first time. Linda, as the mother of an older daughter with multiple disabilities, had been involved with fundraising and supporting IHC for many years and was at that time on the Cornwall Branch Committee. She asked me to join saying they needed all the support they could get and it wouldn't take up too much time, just a couple of hours to attend a meeting once a month! Not quite true, as it turned out.

The Ranfurly site had been purchased in the 1960s with funds raised by Auckland families, and the residential home had been built in 1973, again with funds raised by them, assisted by a government subsidy. Shortly before I came on the scene it had been suggested by the IHC national body that the deeds of all IHC properties throughout N.Z. should be held by the national organisation. Every branch except Ashburton had passed over ownership of all their properties and thenceforth the decision of what was to be sold was in National Office hands, with the approval of a vote from the National Council, composed of the presidents of all the branches in New Zealand.

A Philosophy and Policy Document produced by IHC at this time specified that no more than 5 people should live in a house and 6 on a site. Ranfurly House clearly did not comply with this and the direction was given that the whole site should be sold and the residents rehoused in smaller dwellings, most of which were purchased in Onehunga. A figure of well over $1,000,000 was expected to be realised by the sale.

The Auckland Branch was very much against losing this valuable facility in the heart of Epsom. When a resolution to sell the property was passed by the N.Z. Council in September 1987 two well-attended public meetings were held at an independent venue in Mt Albert.

A strongly worded resolution was passed rejecting the NZ Council resolution and insisting that the future of Ranfurly be left in the hands of the Central Auckland Branch Committee. The National President, who attended, said he would convey this to the NZ Council.

In 1988 the Central Auckland Branch was split up and Cornwall Branch came into being. The new Cornwall Branch was determined to continue to fight for a local decision to be made on the future of the property.

In mid 1989 a fire damaged the Vocational Centre and the people who used it were relocated (temporarily we hoped) in a hall at the back of a local church. However although the insurance company paid out the cost of repairs the money was retained in Wellington and these repairs were never carried out, in spite of the Cornwall Committee getting quotes and constantly requesting that they be so. At this stage the committee, chaired by Des Carter, wrote to the National Director requesting:

  • The restoration of the fire damage.
  • The future intentions of the N.Z Council regarding the site.

As a result a Task Force was set up with representatives of the National Property Committee meeting with representatives of the Cornwall Branch. Three meetings were held during which both sides suggested ways round the impasse

We in Cornwall Branch thought we were still at the discussion stage when we read in the minutes of the N.Z. Council meeting of April 1990 that Dell Willems, Chairperson of the Property Committee, had presented a scheme which involved leasing the residential building to a rest home operator and demolishing the Vocational building to build, in partnership with a developer, some townhouses, some of which of which would have been occupied by people with intellectual disabilities.

We had been discussing this suggestion by the National Property Committee but that was all, however the NZ Council meeting had voted to action it.

This information was presented to a hastily called Branch meeting which rejected the proposed scheme and stated that it would be preferable for us to run the home ourselves rather than lease it to another agency.

Des Carter, our President, immediately wrote to the National President pointing out that our branch had agreed to their proposal. He further pointed out that our representatives on the Task Force did not have the authority to speak for the Branch, and in any case it was news to them that this had been agreed upon! He also informed Dr Deane that we had several months previously held a postal survey of our members and only one out of 50 replies received considered the property dispensable. He asked for a written assurance that nothing would proceed without Branch approval.

When we enquired as to why no reply had been received by mid June we were informed that Des's letter had been mis-filed and the National President had not received it. A month later a reply was received seeking discussions with our new president, Tom Kiely.

Tom flew to Wellington and met with the National Director and the National President at an informal meeting.

He explained our view that Auckland decisions should be made in Auckland and that handing over property deeds did not mean that we had relinquished our right to participate in decisions affecting us, nor give everyone else in the organisation all over New Zealand the right to tell us what we wanted and what was appropriate for Auckland . He felt that the meeting went well but sadly nothing had changed.

Tom was overseas when the next NZ Council meeting was scheduled so as a newly appointed vice president I was chosen to represent the branch and inform the meeting of our views. This was a rather frightening prospect, but I wrote out a statement and ran it past Graeme Reid whose counsel I valued greatly. When it came time to stand up and read it my knees were knocking.

Although I received quite a few words of support informally over morning tea and lunch, no one was prepared to publicly support our right to retain the property we had bought with local money and which was clearly needed and wanted by our members. This continued to happen over the next few months.

However we took heart when, at the National AGM at Waipuna Lodge in September 1990, in answer to a remit tabled by Upper Hutt Branch, Dell Willems said that the remit was totally unnecessary as properties were never sold without local Branch approval. J.B. Munro, the National Director confirmed that he could not sign a Sale & Purchase agreement until he had the signed permission of the local Branch Committee in front of him. This was very reassuring to Cornwall Branch.

We decided that we needed to produce a scheme that complied with the Philosophy and Policy so we sat down and drew up a plan that divided the residential building into a five bed roomed house around a courtyard, a meeting hall in the centre wing and a suite of medical rooms in the wing that runs out to the street. We envisaged that these would be used by doctors, physiotherapists, dentists etc. The other building we planned to partly demolish and build a new office suite for the branch retaining the recreation hall at the back.

The adjoining house at 259 Manukau Rd , also owned by the IHC and previously used as a Special Care facility, was to be sold to fund the alterations. We felt sure that this would be the compromise scheme that would be acceptable to everyone.

There was to be a NZ Council meeting on 28th June 1991 and both Tom and I would be overseas. Linda Nelson, our other vice president, would represent the branch this time. We photocopied our plan and posted it to every branch president in the country, 50+ of them, as well as a copy each to the National Director and the National President. We felt sure that when they had all studied it they would agree that is was a good solution. Linda drove down to Wellington feeling confident that all would go smoothly at the meeting.

When the sale of Ranfurly came up on the agenda Linda got up to discuss our plan. Both the National Director and the National President said they had not received it. Not one single person in that meeting stood up and said "Well I did".

A full and well-prepared motion to sell was presented and passed. Our last ditch stand to stay within the organisation had failed. All hope of our remaining in the IHC was lost.

Linda drove back to Auckland in the pouring rain feeling absolutely incensed by the injustice of her treatment. She reported on her experiences to a special meeting of Branch members held off site. The decision to form a new society to take over and run services at Ranfurly was made. Ranfurly Care was born. All this was conveyed to me in a very expensive phone call from Linda to where I was staying in Yorkshire .

As with all definitive moments in one's life I can still clearly recapture my feeling of complete disbelief as I sat on the bottom stair in that hallway and heard of the events at the Wellington meeting.

On her return from Wellington Linda and other members of the group had immediately swung into action. She accompanied Hilary and Graeme Reid to a meeting with David Abbott, a solicitor who was an expert in this field, to see if the Constitution of the IHC permitted the NZ Council to over-ride the wishes of a local branch membership and committee.

Discussions were held with Housing Corp. and DSW about attracting funding if a new parent-run society could gain the right to run the service themselves. We were fortunate that at that time alternative providers were being encouraged.

Linda visited two private service providers for advice on running a small service, and researched the funding that would be available from DSW. Graeme Reid was able to arrange a meeting with Sir Robert Muldoon who was conversant with the matter through information sent to him from Michael Hughes. He said he would do what he could and would speak to Doug Graham, the Minister of Justice. Graeme also introduced Linda to Christine Fletcher and Jenny Shipley (then Minister of Social Welfare). They all expressed a wish to help us in our plight and suggested that if we formed a charity and got DSW approval a way could be found for IHC to be satisfied and for us to regain control of the property. We were encouraged to stand back and allow DSW to negotiate this on our behalf.

On Sunday 7th July 1991 a meeting in Mt Roskill chaired by Linda Nelson heard the situation to date and discussed alternatives available. The decision was made to formally set up an independent group of parents and for everyone to make contact with their local MP for support. About this time Alister Martin and Tom Kiely approached a mutual friend at the Herald and articles about the Ranfurly parents began to appear in the newspaper. Linda and I resigned as vice presidents of Cornwall Branch IHC now but Tom remained as president and stood back from Ranfurly Care activities.

Then one day something happened that galvanized us into action - a large "For Sale" sign appeared on the Ranfurly property without the branch committee having been advised. We realised if we wanted Ranfurly we were going to have to buy it for a second time.

The formation and registration of a new society became urgent now, as we needed to become a legal entity in a hurry to tender for the property. Alister Martin arranged for legal assistance to Incorporate our Society and write the Rules. This was completed through Rod Willis at Simpson Grierson Butler White at no cost to the members, a very generous donation for which we are eternally grateful.

The other problem was that we didn't have any money and although Housing Corp was willing to make us a very favourable loan we needed to raise the deposit ourselves. We were very concerned by the groups of people we saw showing an interest in the property as we hoped that we would not have too much competition from other tenderers. It was also difficult to know how much to tender, but in the end this was governed by the Housing Corp loan offer, following their valuation. We were grateful for expert advice on this matter given by Chris Barfoot of Barfoot and Thompson.

It was decided that we should gain as much publicity for our cause as possible and this was obtained in various ways. The Reids arranged for Linda to meet Jenny Shipley, the Minister of Social Welfare, at their home. En route Jenny drove past Ranfurly to gain a personal knowledge of the situation. When later she was talking on a 1ZB programme it was arranged that Linda would ring her and talk about what we were trying to do.

This was done and Mrs Shipley affirmed the government's willingness to encourage other providers such as ourselves. She stated " The Government, while they respect the IHC view on what they would prefer, in administering the support subsidies is quite adamant that the subsidy can be used in organisations or institutions larger than the six person."

We had been constantly told by the IHC National Office that the Government would not fund homes of more than 6 people, but this statement by the Minister of Social Welfare confirmed that this was an IHC not a Government limitation.

Angela d' Audney proved to be a valuable supporter at this time, interviewing Linda on her programme and raising a lot of public awareness of the issue, as did also 1ZB's Jenny Woods and John Cordney. This had a most amazing result. A lady rang Linda, after obtaining her phone number with great difficulty from the IHC office.

She said she would like to donate $30,000 to our purchase. This seemed too good to be true but this wonderful lady also invited Linda and myself to morning tea at her home and we soon realized her offer was genuine. I hope she knows what that magical first cash donation meant to us.

We had decided to tender $665,000 and we needed 10% of that for a deposit. However with this incredible gift to get the ball rolling our spirits were high. Various friends and members made donations and arranged fund-raising events, including a wonderful musical concert organized by Hilary Reid at Diocesan School and a substantial cash donation from Chas Watters, who had joined our group from Taupo when he heard what we were doing. Nonie Kiely organized a Bridge party, a Whitford Stable Stomp, film evenings and a jumble sale. There was a feeling of excitement and positive energy now our goal was in sight.

We put in our tender and in due course discovered that although ours was the higher of the two tenders received IHC was still reluctant to sell to us. We decided then that we needed more public awareness of our cause so we rang talkback radio on various stations. One of our group would ring and describe our situation, then another call would be made enlarging on the information, and so on. None of us had ever rung talkback before and we were all very nervous. John Green, who by this time had been elected President of the fledgling society, had a friend who was a sign writer. John persuaded him to paint a huge sign saying "Ranfurly belongs to IH people, KEEP DEVELOPERS OUT" on canvas and then someone (I hope it wasn't John) climbed up and tied it between two of the giant oak trees fronting Manukau Road . This had been done during the tendering process in the hope of discouraging competition, but now John was photographed by the Herald standing in front of the sign with his daughter Jan above an article quoting the local MP Chris Fletcher berating the IHC for acting in a high-handed manner towards a group of parents under the headline "MP deplores rejection of parents' tender". Chris was deeply concerned by our predicament and brought up the matter in caucus after discussions with several ministers. Later she brought several government ministers to view our facility, considering a good example of what could be done.

Many of our group lived in Doug Graham's Remuera electorate, so when this article appeared I cut it out and, attaching a note listing all our names I requested that he "stand up and be counted" and faxed it to him in Wellington . I received a copy of his press release the next day and shortly afterwards his statement headed "IHC bites the hand that feeds it" appeared in the Herald. The news team from 1ZB picked up on the story and rang J B Munro in Wellington to ask him why he didn't want to sell to us, given all the circumstances.

Soon after all this we were called into the Landcorp office to meet with Doug Bullen, IHC's property manager and Ron Major, the IHC Auckland manager. It appeared to be an attempt to talk our tender up. John Green, Linda and I were joined by Linda's solicitor. John Radley, as we felt we needed some professional support.

He was so incensed by the way we were treated at this meeting - which eventually resulted in our offer being accepted - that he offered to join our organisation and became our first Chairman of Trustees.

Our initial Constitution stipulated 2 governing bodies, a Board of Trustees to administer matters relating to property and assets and an Executive Committee to deal with the management of the services. We have since simplified the organisation to employ one body as we feel that in a small society such as ours it is too difficult to find office bearers for two committees.

We very nearly came unstuck before we even got going over the appointments to the Trustees Board. Of the 6 people initially appointed one, who was an outsider with what was considered to be useful professional expertise, misunderstood her role and wished to have input into the running of the residence. She resigned when this mistake was realised and two others with similar misunderstandings resigned with her.

This left the board of Trustees without a quorum to pass a resolution to sign the purchase agreement for the property. John Radley and Ross Green did some hard talking to persuade one of the three to attend one more meeting long enough to approve the purchase and sign the agreement.

We now had the property secured but there was a lot of work to be done before we took it over on February 1st 1992 . We needed to arrange a budget, employ staff, plan and arrange operating funding as well as funding for the renovations, which were an urgent priority if we were to have an acceptable home to offer our people. Nothing had been done to the buildings for many years and they were in a very run-down state. However, upon our announcing our plans a long-time IHC Ranfurly supporter Pauline Brookes had come forward and promised us an $8250 bequest her mother, Hilda Ramsey had left for refurnishing the lounge. Pauline had not wanted to pass it over until now as the property was obviously being run down by IHC prior to sale. Later, when Pauline herself passed away she left us an even larger sum to keep the furnishings in the lounge always up to a high standard.

The inaugural committee comprised: John Green as president, Jan Mitchell as vice president, Linda Nelson as secretary. Committee members were: Florence Fraser, Bernadette Jew and Bob Johnston.

The Trustees were John Radley, Alister Martin, Ross Green and the two replacements for those who had resigned; Hewitt Harrison and Chas Watters. Chas drove all the way up from Taupo for each meeting.

A committee meeting on Dec 3rd 1991 facilitated by Marion Galvin, who had assisted us with valuable information on the running of small trusts and where to go to arrange funding etc., put together a mission statement, set short and medium term goals and allocated tasks to be completed for us to be up and ready to run on Feb 1st. The meeting minutes of 19th December state that the president has sent Alison Adams, the solicitor who did more valued work on our Constitution, a bottle of champagne, cheap legal assistance for sure!

We now advertised for staff but of course, we had nowhere to interview them. Our advertisement brought a huge response and we divided the suitable-sounding applicants into two piles and Linda interviewed half of them at her home and I interviewed the other half at mine. We were determined to have 24-hour awake staff and this was difficult to arrange with our very limited budget.

We had 6 definite residents for day one, 3 of whom had remained there under IHC and 3 who had moved out but were coming back. We needed one more to break even. Two more and we could all heave a sigh of relief!

At the meeting on January 22nd 1992 , Linda Nelson was officially appointed Manager while we agonised over what we could afford to pay her - it wasn't very much! At this meeting, we also reluctantly accepted a resignation from Bernadette, who had provided a lot of valuable assistance with our founding paperwork. Nonie Kiely, Teddy Martin and Bill Shieff now joined the committee.

We decided we would open our residential service on the Monday afternoon. People who lived there at present (Jan Green, Mark Purdie and Selwyn Meredith) would go home to their families on the Friday afternoon and our staff would be ready to receive them when they came in from their Day Services on the Monday afternoon.

What a wonderful feeling on that first morning, February 1st 1992 , when Linda and I received the keys from the IHC staff member, Val Gould! How we relished that first walk through the building with the front door key in our hands. It was very exhilarating to have our destiny in our own hands at last. That day the invitation had been issued to all of our members to come and see what we had bought and I believe John Green had already been there when we arrived at 9 am .

The committee minutes for 18th Feb 1992 show that by then, when we had been running for just over 2 weeks, we had 8 residents. Our budget was secure! John Green had selected an architect from the Yellow Pages - David Stringer- who had drawn up preliminary plans for improvements in the residence without charge. These had already been submitted to the ASB Trust with an application for a Grant. These plans aimed to take the institutional aspects from the building by providing individual bathrooms and en-suites and giving the living and kitchen areas a more domestic aspect.

Nonie had asked her friend Colleen Mills, the Mayoress of Auckland, if she would become our patron and she had accepted and visited the site where she had met several committee members hard at work.

For the first few weeks IHC rented the Activity Centre from us and continued to operate from there but they were planning to move out by the end of March. Having just got our residential service up and running we now had to organise funding, employ staff, design a programme and inform families that we would be running our own Day Service when IHC moved out. We organised a wage subsidy through the Employment Services scheme Job Plus and employed a coordinator from mid-March. We also managed to get wage subsidies for 3 more staff.

Graeme Reid had placed a notice in the Chartered Accountants magazine and Greg Rathbun had volunteered his services to assist us as a Treasurer. Everyone on the Committee and the Trust was either a parent or a sibling of a person with an intellectual disability. The skills of all were well utilised and we were a very busy bunch of people that first year.

As well as using her medical skills to set up medication systems, train staff and liaise with the doctor, Florence Fraser sewed curtains, baked cakes and laid slate on the hearth. Nonie used her considerable fund-raising talents to organise events such as film evenings and Christmas card sales etc that provided us with valuable PR. Teddy transformed the straggly gardens to a well-kept appearance. Bob Johnston was (and still is) tireless in carrying out small maintenance jobs around the buildings. I do not think Hewitt Harrison realized what he had taken on when he agreed to liaise with the architect and the builder over the extensive alterations covered by the ASB Grant. I think you could call it a challenging task, going by the monthly reports he brought to the Trustees meetings!

Discussions took place on the style of logo we would like and several suggestions were considered. In the end Judy Carter did a charming little drawing of one of our buildings and it just seemed to personify Ranfurly Care. Now that we have lost Judy we still have her drawing on our letterhead to remind us of all her love and concern.

The folk from the Country and Western Music Club were very supportive of our residents this first year. They based their club in the Activity Centre building and interacted a lot with our people. Their wonderful concerts in our hall and relaxed fellowship were greatly enjoyed by all our country and western fans.

Valuable manpower around the site was provided, and still is, by regular visits from teams of PD workers. Their first supervisor, Laurie Griffiths, became a valued friend and supporter. He even managed to supply some experienced trades people in his team!

Another valued contributor over the early years was Linda's mother, Mrs Edna Matthews. Until our wages system became computerised Mrs Matthews could be found in the office every Wednesday preparing wages, and doing any other tasks that came her way.

In August the Manager reported that, thanks to submissions on our behalf by Alister Martin, the Fisher Trust was donating $15,000 for a vehicle. This was used for the purchase of our first mini-bus - what excitement when that arrived!

In September the news we had all been waiting for arrived- The ASB Trust advised that we had been granted $258,000 to completely refurbish Ranfurly House. This was good news indeed to round off the first financial year of the society.

A few months later, when the alterations were nearing completion, the ASB Trust donated us a further $30,368 to re-carpet the whole building and put safety glass into the recreation hall. We also received that first year donations from the Sir John Logan Campbell Trust, Newmarket Rotary, the Lottery Board, the Hillary Commission, the McKenzie Trust as well as several anonymous donors. It seemed that everywhere there was a feeling of goodwill towards us.

At the AGM in September John Green retired as president, having been 'the right person in the right place' and doing a great job getting us up and running. I took his place and Florence Fraser became vice president. Bob Johnston also resigned from the committee and Maurie Meredith replaced him.

On October the 3rd the Eden/Epsom Jaycees helped us stage a wonderful fundraising Gala in the park adjoining our property. It was a great PR exercise for Ranfurly, raised a considerable sum to support the Activity Centre and provided a memorable day of fun and games for all. To coincide with it we held an official opening ceremony at which our Patron, the Mayoress0 Colleen Mills and our wonderfully supportive local MP Christine Fletcher officiated. The Eden/Epsom Jaycees also held a number of discos in our hall when the Ranfurly residents enjoyed the fellowship of this young and vibrant group. As well they donated the aviary, which gives so much pleasure today.

The alterations to the residence caused great difficulties for residents and staff alike in the next few months but the results made it all worthwhile. The second year we managed to afford to buy a second vehicle, a station wagon for our Manager and for staff to use for grocery shopping etc.

1993 was also the year of our Big Production. We were lucky enough to have the services of 2 highly skilled drama therapists and they put together a magical musical drama called "The Enchanted Forest". We had packed out performances for several nights and an excerpt even appeared on the Holmes Show on TV. In later years we staged several impressive art shows organised mainly by our staff member, Jeanette Baalbergen, who also wrote a book of lovely, sensitive poems about the people she worked with at Ranfurly.

Once the refurbishments of Ranfurly House were complete we turned our attention to the other building and once again the ASB Trust agreed to support us by funding the complete re-fitting of the toilet areas and improving the dining room area, as well as repainting the exterior. Ranfurly now looked wonderful in its new soft colour scheme.

While the physical environment was being improved the lifestyle of the residents was also getting full attention. Ranfurly House became a home in the true sense of the word.

Family and friends were always welcome to pop in and visit and we stressed to our staff that this was the resident's home and their role was to support and assist but never direct. Lots of entertaining went on. The committee decided that Ranfurly would organise and fund a holiday for each resident every year and small groups went to Rotoroa Island , Orewa beach and many other enjoyable destinations. This has continued to occur annually. It was also decided that extra staff would be employed on the weekend to facilitate an interesting range of outings. We heard it said that residents when visiting their parents in the weekend became anxious to get back to Ranfurly in case they missed out on something exciting!

1997 was the year we started up our Supported Employment enterprise. Over the years part-time jobs have been found for quite a few people. They have needed a lot of support to start with but there have been many success stories.

There was a small band of women called the Ladies Auxiliary who had met together once a week for many years to sew and hold stalls to raise money for extra treats for Ranfurly residents, right from the time it was first built. They continued to support us when we took over from IHC and bought many lovely Christmas gifts etc for our people. The group was led for more than 30 years by Ursula Lampitt until we lost her in 1997. That was an unfortunate year for Ranfurly as we lost two other Founder Members and staunch supporters. Judy Carter, designer of our logo, and Graeme Reid whose wise counsel over the original Constitution and subsequent alterations to it was always sought by our Trustees and Executive.

We had been aware that the property IHC called Cornwall Park Lodge, a property originally built as a motel and subsequently bought by IHC as residential flats for more able people, was also on IHC's "to be sold" list. This appeared to us to be an ideal complement to Ranfurly House and was only a stone's throw away. We had talked amongst ourselves about the possibility of buying it when it came up for sale. Then one day early in 1999 John Radley rang me and said it was indeed up for tender and we should talk about it.

John, Linda and I met at Ranfurly one Sunday morning to study the sale information, then rang Ken Franklin, a member of our Executive who is a Property Management Consultant. We all became enthused with the idea as we discussed it and called a special meeting of the Executive to decide whether to go ahead with an attempt to purchase it. The rest of the Executive also thought it was too good an opportunity to miss. We were also in the fortunate position at this particular time of having a good part of the required deposit in the bank thanks to a generous bequest from the late Graeme Reid, once again he was there to help us when we needed him! Ken did research on what the site would be worth to developers, the only competition we anticipated.

We then did all the calculations and budgeting estimates and talked to two lending institutions. As we were aware that IHC would be unlikely to favour us as purchasers we placed our tender through Ken's property company. We were successful in our tender and had already identified potential residents through our own waiting list and names put forward by the very supportive Needs Assessment team at the Disability Resource Centre. Everything should have been very straight forward as we had done all our homework. However although these potential residents had been assessed as being entitled to funding the RHA would not pay them their allowances to move in. The families were desperate and all got together and lobbied their M. P s, wrote to Wyatt Creach, the Minister of Health (not even a reply from him) and Jeff Richardson, at the Health Funding Agency. All they were ever told was "You will have an answer in two weeks", and then at the end of that, another two weeks.

In the end it was four months from the time we took over the property till our new residents received their funding, coinciding with the appointment of a new assessment team fronted by Helen Green, currently the face of World Vision on TV. Four months when we still had to make mortgage payments. This although we had made plans and had everything organised in plenty of time. I sometimes wonder if the folk at HFA would have felt any responsibility if their actions, which were never explained, had caused us to give up on this project with the loss of a valuable facility for IH people. I can only surmise it had something to do with attaining budget targets. Anyway, suddenly, without explanation for the delay, the money came through and residents were able to move in. We were able to fully staff the complex and run it the way we wanted to. We had planned all along to sell the old villa fronting the Great South Road as soon as we could complete a subdivision and thanks to a lot of hard work by Executive member Maurice Hall that was soon completed giving us a considerable reduction on our mortgage. We have also consistently used cash donations to reduce our debt whenever possible.

Once again the ASB Trust came to our assistance and funded the complete refurbishment of all the bathrooms as well as providing a community kitchen and dining area for those who do not cook for themselves every day. Today the flats at 45 Cornwall Park Ave house a group of very happy people, proud of their own personal space and their independence. We have staff there 24 hours a day but at night we have sleepover staff at this facility. We have just received another grant from the ASB Trust that will greatly improve the building.

A glass roofed patio is to be built connecting all the units to provide protection as people move around the site in bad weather, and giving an outdoor living space to each flat.

We lost two valued members in 1999. John Green, our first president, whose good humour and optimism had buoyed us all up when we wondered what we were taking on. John lost his battle with ill health in August. Then in October we heard the shocking news that our dear Florence , Dr Florence Fraser, had died suddenly in her dream home in Papamoa.

She had worked so tirelessly for Ranfurly, there almost every day helping to make it a better place for her loved brother Ian, until when Ian died she felt she could take some time for herself. She found her beautiful dream home in Papamoa, indulged herself with a racy new car and had hardly any time to enjoy it all.

In 2001 The Royal Oak Trust, who had supported us with several projects in the past, bought us two beautiful brand new vehicles. One was a smart new mini-bus to take larger groups to bowls etc and the second was a lovely Toyota Previa to enable us to pursue our policy of taking smaller groups on trips to community outings.

Over the years much advice and support has been given by Ranfurly to other groups starting up. Linda has spent a lot of time with everyone who has sought her help, both organisations and families in need of assistance. Organisations need a lot of paperwork these days and we are always willing to share our knowledge with others. Being a family run group makes us very aware of family needs and although we may not be able to provide the help ourselves Linda often spends time ringing around to find someone who can. We are members of two Providers organisations which keeps us in touch with other groups.

Today we employ 30 people and 7 of these have been working for us since 1993. The exceptional qualities of our staff members have ensured that our residents and Day Programme attendees have the best possible lifestyle.

We are also extremely grateful for the generosity of our many donors, both those who have given monetary donations and those who have given their time and expertise so freely. We had initially thought that these donations would be made mainly at the outset, but the wonderful thing is that they have continued right up to the present day. Thank you to you all.

The first ten years have sometimes been rather stressful and things have seldom been easy for our Society. However we have encountered tremendous goodwill from a great many people, it has truly amazed me. I think our story shows what can be done by a fairly small group of family members with a personal knowledge of the needs of people with disabilities, driven by a stubborn determination to fill those needs, and a conviction that what has been hard-won must not be allowed to be taken away.

Ranfurly Care Society, 52-56 Ranfurly Road, Epsom, Auckland. Phone: 09 630 3010. Email: