White Lodge Centre’s history dates back to the early 1950s when a group of parents of children with cerebral palsy set up a small treatment centre in Worplesdon Village Hall. They soon realised there was a very real need to create a purpose-built treatment centre and began a fundraising campaign.
In 1959, the Group Council for White Lodge Centre was established to draw up a constitution and run the operation. The foundation stone, donated by St Peter’s Hospital, was laid at the present site in Chertsey in 1961.
A year later, the Children’s Centre was completed at a cost of £40,000 and the first children were admitted. A highlight of the new centre was the hydrotherapy pool, which was completed in 1964 with funds donated by TV favourite, Richard ‘Mr Pastry’ Hearne. The building was extended through the 1960s to provide more space and better therapy services; HRH The Duchess of Kent officially opened a £30,000 extension in 1970.
The 1970s saw more improvements, including a second extension to the building and a new hydrotherapy pool, which was opened in 1980 by actress, Sylvia Syms. In 1982, a former water pumping station adjacent to the site was given to White Lodge by North Surrey Water and work soon began to convert this old building into a centre for disabled adults, as a pilot project for the ‘Centre for Living’. With this project up and running by 1983, negotiations began with the North West Surrey Health Authority to purchase a bungalow, also adjacent to the White Lodge site.
The need for residential respite care for disabled children recognised, the bungalow was acquired through fundraising and generous donations. Work to convert the new Centre for Living, which had outgrown its existing home began and allowed the old pumping station to be converted into a six-bedroom respite care unit for children called ‘The Cottage’. Both were opened in April 1986 by Sir Cliff Richard.
The early 1990s saw the establishment of the Appeals Department and the Family Link Scheme, with further improvements made to the Centre through donations from local companies. In 1995, an appeal was launched to rebuild and refurbish the Children’s Centre. Designed by Boradway Malyan, the rebuilding was undertaken in three phases with Sir Cliff Richard opening Phase I and II of the development in 1998. White Lodge then went on to cap an amazing decade of growth with an ‘Investment in People’ award and a ‘Charter Mark’ award.
In 2002, the Karten CTEC Centre was built, providing vital access to IT systems for adults using the Centre. Phase III of the Children’s Centre rebuild was also completed and opened by HRH The Countess of Wessex. The ‘Space to be Me’ appeal was launched in 2004 with the aim of raising funds to replace The Cottage and The Adult Resource Centre as both buildings were suffering from old age and a lack of space and resources. The £1.6 million needed to replace The Cottage was met through generous donations and work began in May 2005 on Treetops, a purpose-built facility offering essential leisure activity breaks for up to six young children aged up to 12 years in a home-from-home environment. Competed in May 2006, this fabulous new building was officially opened in September 2006, by Ted Gostling, President Emeritus of the ACT Foundation, which supported the construction of the building a £1 million donation.
After a successful major capital appeal and over a year of off-site activities for our members, White Lodge Centre officially opened Rendezvous, our new adult resource centre, in October 2008. This state-of-the-art building was designed with our adult members in mind and reflects White Lodge’s dedication and commitment to the continued support and growth of all those who use it.
White Lodge continues to provide the best facilities possible through ongoing development.