In August, 1959 the first children began to arrive at the Oaklands estate. In place were a group of staff ready to manage a gaggle of children about whom they knew very little – beyond what had been gauged during the selction process.
Eric, the Warden, a former German refugee, educated at Bunce Court, in Kent (the school established by Anna Essinger in 1933), was responsible for the operation of the Village. Eric resided in the Manor House with his wife, Margaret and their baby daughter, Susan.
Maureen, the first house-mother, was later described by Eric as a person “of limitless patience and understanding” and with “a quiet and imperturbable disposition”.
“Uncle Mac”, the first house-father, is remembered as a mild and good-natured man who was somewhat limited by a prosthetic leg. He lived in the Stables accommodaton, along with the boys. His actual name is not remembered and it is thought that he only remained at the Village for a matter of months.
Irmgard, the Village’s cook was someone who did so much more that just feed the community and was very much a part of the children’s daily life. Irmgard lived in West Cottage (adjacent to the estate’s main entrance) with her young daughter Bärbel.
Nikki, assistant house-mother, a young Hungarian woman who is thought to have remained with the community for about one year.
Subsequently, during 1959-1960, various other care staff came to work at the Village.
These were some of them:
- Geoff – house-father
- Ray – house-father
- Robin & Eva – house-parents
- Ann Mulvey – assistant house mother
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