The home inspired by a boy turns 110

Olwen Cranston, Ethelbert chairoerson, Kathryn Buchanan, Sylivia Parfitt, Sandra Vermaak, Zena and Casper de Villiers.

A LANDMARK in Queensburgh, Ethelbert Child and Youth Care Centre has a rewarding history of providing a loving home to children needing a safe place.

And the ongoing contact and letters of thanks from past children is testament the centre has indeed maintained its goal to provide a loving home and raise children able to make their way in the world with discipline and confidence.

A legacy the Corbishley family, who opened the home, can be proud of. In 1896 Francis and Tom Corbishley lost a son, Ethelbert when he drowned in a storm water drain where he had gone to retrieve a ball.

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The 16-month old boy’s tragic death inspired hi parents, together with the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, to open a childen’s home in his memory.

The foundation stone was laid in June 1907 and eight months later, on 12 February 1908, one girl and four boys were admitted.

The building that housed boys and girls is the only original structure that remains and is now called Corbishley Hall. It is used as a hall for meetings, Centre concerts and events, and the AGMs.

In 1996 – in response to the Government’s call that children’s homes become more integrated and representative of the needs of the community – part of Ethelbert’s unused land was appropriated to build Ethelbert Village. This has become a popular retirement village with 32 units.

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Ian Corbishley, great grandson of the Corbishley is the vice chairperson of the centre responsible for overseeing good governance. He still strongly believes in the vision of the centre being a home and not an orphanage.

“We dropped the word orphanage in the 1970s as the home is a refuge for children who are victim of social ills, HIV/AIDS, abuse. It is a refuge for vulnerable children and we aim to create a sanctuary and a stable home,” he said.

Ian said Ethelbert aim to create children that will grow up to be functional members of society, who can keep a job, graduate and contribute to society.

Over the years, many members of the Corbishley family have served in the board and have continuously made donations.The current chairperson, Katheryn Buchanan’s mother was a Corbishley and is the third cousin of Ian.

Addrienne van der Watt, a child care manager has worked at Ethelbert for 13 years, she has seen children come at their worst and leaving the home grateful for a loving family.

Addrienne was one of the youngest youth leaders for her church when she was just in grade 9 and has always enjoyed working with youth and development. “I loved working with children, I didn’t want to be a teacher but still wanted to have an impact on children’s lives,” she said.

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She relocated from Port Elizabeth to Durban to work at Ethelbert and when she came in she didn’t really know how special the home but very soon fell in love with its programmes and history. “I still enjoy developing programmes that meet the children’s individual needs and that is what has kept me here,” she said.

As much as she has imparted a lot into the children, Addrienne has also taken many lessons from he children she has looked after.”These children have taught me that with whatever you may go through you will bounce back, they have been through the unthinkable but still bounce back and learn from their circumstance,” she added.

Ian said he is very grateful for people who show support in forms of donations and time. “If it had not been for the people of South Africa who give generous donations we wouldn’t have been here. My wish is for Ethelbert to be around for the next 110 years,” he said.

 

 

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  AUTHOR
Khethukuthula Lembethe-Xulu

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