Pestalozzi 2019 – 60 years in Sedlescombe!

It’s almost time for a celebration!

On Saturday, 15thAugust, 1959, the first child arrived at the Pestalozzi Children’s Village in Sedlescombe, East Sussex. 2019 will be the sixtieth anniversary of that event – the beginning of a Pestalozzi presence in the UK.

As a result, this small beginning has spread across the world, sending its wards to numerous nations around the world. Additionally, spin-off Pestalozzi communities are gradually developing in more countries, giving previously unimagined opportunities to very bright children living without the hope of qualification or any academic future.

The Early Pestalozzi Children Project is in discussions with the Pestalozzi International Village Trust to encourage celebration at Sedlescombe, in June 2019, of the nearly sixty years since this moment.  Our plan is to engage as many as possible of all the former Pestalozzi children and students – who either lived at Sedlescombe or with one of the other associated organisations.

A celebration across the world

We also realise that many of the hundreds of our ex-Pests around the world will be unable to make it to the UK.  We want you to celebrate too! We’d love everyone to salute their memories of a unique period in their lives.

Can you organise or support a Pestalozzi gathering in your country – or in your local area, town or village – next year? We’d love to know that you will be able to get together! It doesn’t have to be elaborate! Just people gathering, remembering and celebrating.

Share with those visiting Sedlescombe!

We also want to share your local event at Sedlescombe when we meet here. Think about sending us a short video clip or some photos – along with some memories of what made Pestalozzi special. Let us know what you’re doing now! We want everyone to be involved – wherever you are. If the time is right, we could even have a video link-up!

Are you on your own, somewhere in the world?  No way of linking up with other ex-Pests?  No worries – around the planned time, just send us a photo and message or short video of you celebrating what Pestalozzi has meant to you.  We will see that your contribution is included!

It doesn’t matter if you were at Pestalozzi in care or as an academic student. If you are ex-Pestalozzi Children’s Village, ex- PIVT, ex-Pestalozzi World – or any of the organisations with a link to our home in Sedlescombe, then let us know. We want you to have the chance to acknowledge your appreciation for the community that you lived in.  If you are currently living in one of these Pestalozzi communities, you are every bit as welcome!

As you may know, Pestalozzi will cease its presence in Sedlescombe after the current academic year (2018/2019).  This is an utterly sad moment for us – but it must not stop celebration of the positive memories of worthwhile opportunities and the friendships made.

Keep in touch!

We will let you know more of the plans as they develop. Do let us know what you think – and how you might be involved.

Finally, if you are an ex-staff member or supporter, we’re keen to hear from you, too. People who have worked with us or have supported us are important as well. Your memories will an important  element in remembering our story.

If you have any questions,
get in touch at 
or on our contact page

Watch this space (and our Facebook page) for more details about
#pestfest60  (this is our tag for the time being!).

Celebrating the work of PETT!

We have just spent the weekend at the Planned Environment Therapy Trust (PETT) in Toddington, Gloucestershire. We were there to celebrate their achievements and their support for others over the years.  A wide range of people spoke on the importance and value of PETT – both academically and practically.   PETT has been particularly effective in actively bringing together individuals and groups who have then been able to benefit from each other’s experiences and knowledge. Our project was invited to speak about how the organisation helped us establish our organisation and learn to conduct our research into the early history of the Pestalozzi Children’s Village in Sedlescombe.

The Early Pestalozzi Children Project LogoWe were able to show the audience,  with the support of PETT and sage advice from its archivist, Craig Fees, how far we’ve come in five years. In 2013 we had no idea that we could even do this work! Since then we’ve learnt to research archives; present our story to a range of audiences (including the Oral History Society and the University of Brighton); recover connections with past Pestalozzi staff (from the 1960s!).  Now we are even reaching out to the entire Pestalozzi community that has evolved internationally from that acorn at Oaklands Park in 1959!  We are also in the process of writing a book about our Pestalozzi story.

Of course, we have needed finances to get this far – but our success here was also helped by the generous time spent by PETT giving us advice on our application to the Heritage Lottery Fund. The nett result: £9,900 to get us off the ground (but it’s unbelievable how quickly that gets used!).

PETT has worked with other community groups over many years. Of note for us are the Wennington School Association and the Caldecott Community Association (whose history has a special link with our early Pestalozzi community). We are grateful for the enthusiastic support generously offered by these groups when we have visited PETT’s archive and study centre. Their appreciation of our emotional connection with our Pestalozzi upbringing gave us the confidence to engage with them.

There is also a need to make mention of something special about PETT that has struck us over the past five years – and this links to our experiences with the early Pestalozzi organisation that cared for us. When we arrived at Pestalozzi, the same atmosphere prevailed – they were all in it together.  The enthusiasm for the activities at PETT has always been visible among all the staff: support, catering, admin, professional – the lot.  We know they care.

Our experience with PETT has enabled us to emerge as credible project organisers with an exciting and worthy goal.

Our heartfelt thanks to Craig and all those at PETT with him who have helped us create and take on this project.

Find out more:

If you would like to know more about the Planned Environment Therapy Trust – in particular the Archive & Study Centre – then take a look at this link.

If you have questions for us about it, get in touch here!


I had a delightful surprise a couple of days ago.

Out of the blue, I got a call from an unrecognised number from Sydney, Australia.   Strange – simply because it clearly wasn’t my family nor one of my older Aussie friends.

It turned out to be one Meguerditch Asurian – also known as Micky – a Palestinian/Armenian ex-Pest from the Village’s earlier times!  Neither Micky nor I had ever been aware of each other when we were both living in Australia.  We have only recently noticed each others’ names through this project’s activities on Facebook.

The nicest thing about the call was the special, almost instant connection that seems to occur whenever two ex-Pests meet for the first time.  Although Micky and I had lived at Pestalozzi during different times (me 1959-66, Micky 1968-76), we immediately felt that indefinable but enduring bond tied to the Pestalozzi experience. And there were enough overlaps in our respective experiences that we could both easily connect with each other’s memories. Needless to say, as typical Pestalozzi kids, we had no problems filling the conversation!

One thing I found reassuring was that (along with most ex-Pests, I think) we both look back in a reasonably balanced way: always relishing the amazing and valuable experiences we had but also recognizing the community’s limitations at the time. People with no knowledge of the Pestalozzi Children’s Village often get the impression that our enthusiastic and positive memories must be at least a little exaggerated (after all, we were children in care!!!). It can be hard to accept that a “home” could possibly be that good! As most who know will agree, while the Village wasn’t perfect, it was quite wonderful in many respects.

Micky told me that when people ask him where he calls home, he still replies, “Sedlescombe!”. I really do feel the same way.  After almost 70 years, right to the present day, the Oaklands estate in Sedlescombe remains the only place in the world that gives me a gut-level sense of belonging. In fact, the main thing I can’t get used to today is that the cattle-grid at the main entrance has been removed in the past few years. Its absence has helped me discover that the almost daily “rumble on arrival”, when we were driven across the grid, became the sign that I had come home.  Not to “a home”, but to “my home”.

So, speaking to Micky has already given me an unexpected pleasure – and reinforced my awareness of the good things that have been done for many in the name of Johann Pestalozzi.

For me, this is one of the exciting things to anticipate about reconnecting with our Pestalozzi community – from the very beginning right through to today: the recognition that so many other people were fortunate enough to experience this brilliant Village. There are many hundreds of us spread across the world. Add to that all the staff, volunteers supporters and fundraisers. Then add the families that we have had (who have also been affected in one way and another). We are talking about thousands of people whose lives have been impacted by that little ladybird!

On 15thAugust 1959 a young boy, by the name of Richard, arrived at the Pestalozzi Children’s Village. At that moment he was the only child there! Over the next days, weeks, months and years, more children arrived. The Village gradually filled, expanded, developed and changed. It also led to other groups taking the idea on later for themselves in various countries.

2019 will be the 60th anniversary of that moment in Sedlescombe. Please remember that the Village is not simply the place you recall, in isolation. It has been a pivotal link for so many different people. If we can get together next year (either back in Sedlescombe, or in-country where you live) it will be a chance to discover and celebrate what an impact Pestalozzi has had on lives around the world.  I hope we can make this happen.

So, do keep in touch: email us, post/message on Facebook – or contact us here. (We may even move into the 21stCentury and get a Twitter account shortly!) – or even take a leaf out of Micky’s book and phone us!😊

Finding The Forgotten Story