A special fund-raiser gets in touch!

The ladybird pin that supporters bought.

We have always known of the massive public support for Pestalozzi in the UK when it started up. This initially helped fund needy British children to attend the Pestalozzi Children’s Village in Switzerland. It then helped to establish a similar international community in Sussex in 1959. To this end, British people bought many, many thousands of the charity’s ladybird pins.

Importantly, we also know that those supporters have not forgotten their enthusiasm for Pestalozzi. We continue to encounter people who instantly recognise the Village’s ladybird – 60 or more years after their involvement! It’s always exciting to hear the stories recalled by these wonderful people.

Here’s one story we have just received!
Sue Smith was tidying some drawers and came across her very special Pestalozzi ladybird pin – decorated with a gold leaf. This prompted her to search online for “Pestalozzi” last week.

When Sue discovered the Early Pestalozzi Children Project website, she read our article about the important effect of donating just one shilling. This moved her to let us know about her own connection to the Village.

Sue’s special ladybird pin – not the usual one!

As a young student she heard about the Pestalozzi Children’s Village. Their plans inspired her to support the charity. “I was very taken with the idea of raising money for the scheme by selling the ladybird pins!” Sue told us. She went on to say, “I sold the pins to fellow pupils at Chorley Grammar School in Lancashire. I was there from September 1956 to July 1963 . . . I remember explaining what I knew about the project to other pupils and some teachers and persuading them to buy the pins.”

So how come Sue has this unusual ladybird pin with a gold leaf?
The Pestalozzi Children’s Village Trust had encouraged supporters to sell the regular ladybird pins in their local communities to raise much-needed funds for the charity. If a supporter sold a large number of pins they would receive a special version of the emblem (backed with a gold leaf) in appreciation of their achievement. “I remember selling over 100 and still have the ladybird pin with the gold leaf which I received in recognition of my effforts!” Sue said.

Sue, proudly wearing her special ladybird pin.

But Sue’s involvement became more to her that just selling the pins: “I have much to thank the ladybird fundraising initiative for. It awoke in me an awareness of life in other countries, a lifelong interest in human rights and showed me that everybody can make a difference, however small.”

Sue has now generously gifted her special pin to the Early Pestalozzi Children Project’s archive. It will be carefully stored with all the other precious material that is being collected.

We offer Sue our double thanks: for donating the pin – but especially for her efforts in fund-raising that helped make such a difference in our lives.

Does anyone in your family remember supporting Pestalozzi in the late 1950s/early 1960s?



Dr Henry Alexander

We are excited to have come across a video recording of an interview in Germany in April 1960 with Dr Henry Alexander, co-founder of the British Pestalozzi Children’s Village Trust. This recording is held in the archives of SWR (Südwestrundfunk).

Dr Alexander was visiting Baden-Württemberg to select refugee children from DP camps who could be accepted for care by the British charity. We have long known that “Onkel Alex” was an excellent promoter – and, during this visit, he had the opportunity for a useful bit of publicity on German television.

Two particular points of interest: 1) Why the Pestalozzi charity did not seek UK government funding and 2) The phenomenal generosity of the British public in the 1950s and early 1960s.

To watch the interview (in German), please use this link We have included our own translation of the interview, below.

Our sincere thanks to Vladymir Rogov for bringing this clip to our attention.

Let us know your reactions: got to our Facebook page


Program: “Abendschau” (Evening Show) – 7th April 1960

(From the archives of SWR, as displayed on their web page: SWR RETRO)

The following brief conversation occurs before the interview officially started:

SWR Why doesn’t the British Government help?

HA We don’t want their help because there are always strings attached and requirements have to be met.

Interview begins [00:08]

SWR Hello, Dr Alexander. What is the reason for your trip here in Baden-Württemberg?

HA I came here to look for children in need who were stateless and living in refugee camps and who would benefit from an education and living conditions in the English Pestalozzi Village.

I assume that you know about the Swiss Pestalozzi Village in Trogen where we have two English houses for which we are responsible and which we support financially.

We are now building an International Pestalozzi Children’s Village in the county of East Sussex in England. This will be the second International Children’s Village in the world. 

The first children to arrive at Pestalozzi are from camps in this area in which these stateless children lived and which, as I was informed by Dr Lindt1, was where the greatest need lay. 

Later, we will build other national houses like they have in our sister Village in Trogen, Switzerland where they also hope to have a German house.

I would now like to show you an aerial photo of how our own Children’s Village looks like. It comprises about 70 Hectares and in the middle is the Manor House in which the twenty children we have at present, live.

An aerial view of Oaklands and the Manor House.

They are Ukrainian, Polish, Latvian, Russian, and a couple of English children. We also have some coloured children from Jamaica, for instance, as we want to include children from outside of the European sphere, as is in the English tradition. In general these children have acclimatised well which gives us great hope and encouragement for the future.

Here you see the children playing football in front of the Manor House. [Photo of Roman , Jurek and Stachek].

Here you see them having afternoon tea, which is an important part of English life and tradition – even if they are in fact drinking lemonade. [Photo of Roman, Arnolds, Stachek, Leonard, Jurek, Niko and Richard]. That is what life looks like in our village at present’

SWR And so, from which point of view did you select these children?

HA Purely by their need. Only by their Need!

SWR How are these Children’s Villages financed ?

HA Almost exclusively from individual donations. The English public has shown itself to be understanding and generous.. School children and organisations such as women’s institutes collected for us. These donations started when we were looking to send English children to Trogen in Switzerland. Through these donations we now have an annual budget of £50.0002 exclusively from public donations. We don’t want financing from the Government.

Interview ends [03:06]

1 Thought to be Augustus R. Lindt, then United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

2 In 2020, this is roughly equivalent to £1.16m – and achieved with nothing like the promotional resources available today!

60 years ago today!

After twelve years of determined preparation came to fruition, sixty years ago the British Pestalozzi Children’s Village took on its very first child.

Richard at Pestalozzi in late August 1959 (not long after his arrival)

On 15 August 1959 a young English boy, Richard Heard (then 11), arrived at the Oaklands estate in Sedlescombe, East Sussex. He was the very first child to join the newly-opened British Pestalozzi Children’s Village.
From Aldershot in Hampshire, Richard’s experience on arrival can only be imagined – there was not a single other child in the place on that first day! A house-mother (Maureen) and a house-father (“Uncle Mac”) were his principle companions. For 24 hours, he had the entire 170 acres virtually to himself (don’t forget, the UK was a lot less regulated in those days – and the Pestalozzi community’s ideals then included allowing children a greater degree of independence).

We are unaware of Richard’s feelings about leaving home – but we know he was warmly welcomed into this newly-created family. And we also know that he embraced the adventure of this new life.

Richard had passed the dreaded 11 Plus exams during his previous school year and this qualified him to attend Bexhill Grammar School.

Richard returns to his Pestalozzi home in Sedlescombe while on military leave – believed to be about 1966.

Leaving the Pestalozzi community around 1964 (tbc), Richard enlisted in the British Army, joining the Royal Corps of Signals. Presently, we do not have any indication of his service history but by the start of 1974 Richard had taken his military discharge and was living in Blandford Forum with his wife and new-born baby.

Sadly, we didn’t hear anything further of Richard until discovering (in April 2009) that he had died from a heart attack some three years previously (about 59 years old).

Finding The Forgotten Story