Laywell House, a voluntary non-profit making Residential Home for the elderly, was originally the brain-child of the Brixham Old People's Welfare Committee, who decided as long ago as 1955, that Brixham must have a home providing quality care for the elderly and whose residents could spend their later years in a friendly, comfortable and above all, caring environment.
The purpose of this care - to live enjoyable, independent and fulfilled lives as far as they are able, with dignity and privacy and with as much choice as possible about what their lives will be like. When in 1958, Mrs Hay Mathey gave this fine manor house in its grand setting for use as a retirement home, this idea began to bear fruit. Since that time, Laywell has undergone considerable change and expansion to maintain its standards of care. From the original house, an extension was built to provide a further 15 single rooms of a very high standard, bringing our total rooms to 30. All ancillary facilities have been up-graded as and when necessary to provide the support services required to maintain the high standard of care.
Set out below is a copy of the original document dated Feb 11th 1959 written by L. H. Stapleton who was at that time Chairman of the Old Peoples Welfare Committee. This document explains the origin of Laywell as "Brixham's first home for the aged".
Having become increasingly aware of the difficulties of old people living alone, in April 1956 the Old Peoples Welfare Committee discussed at length the provision of an Old People's Home for Brixham.
The late Mr. Gay, Chief Assistant Welfare Officer for Devon attended, and gave much good advice, and at the following committee meeting it was unanimously agreed to endeavour to get a Home.
It was realised that much hard work would have to be put in, if the dream were to come true even in the next ten years, and it was with profound delight, and like a bolt from the blue, that in March of last year and in my capacity as Chairman of the O.P.W. Committee I received a letter from Mrs. Hay Matthey, M.B.E., offering to give "LAYWELL” and part of the grounds and instructing the committee to furnish and make ready the house and to maintain it as a memorial to her late husband Capt. Hay Matthey, who was the first President of the O.P.W - an office she has kindly taken over herself.
After gratefully accepting this wonderful gift, the committee got down to real hard work and assisted by a voluntary work party have now completed the preparation of Brixham's first Home for the aged, and so today, February llth 1959, must surely be the most important day in the record of gifts to Brixham, since the gift of the Hospital by the late Mr. Hellier.
Since March of last year we have received a tremendous amount of kindness from people interested in good work, and we are proud to place their generosity on record.
AS Chairman of the committee responsible, I pay great tribute to you, Mrs. Hay Matthey, who, by your so generous gift, have given us so much pleasure in working for its completion and we trust you will be spared many years to witness the pleasure and comfort you have given to others.
To my fellow officers and committee, I extend my most grateful thanks for your help and advice so freely and sincerely given, for your sincere loyalty and understanding, without which some times it would have been very hard going, and for happy hours, the memory of which will carry far into the future. To officers and members of The Devon County our profound gratitude for the help and advice you have so generously given. To you, Mr.Lee, Sir, as representative of the B.U.D.C. our grateful thanks for concessions given and I would ask you Sir, to carry our thanks into the different departments of your council and various members of your staff for advice and help, ranging from Surveyor's office, to the men with the dust cart.
To the work party who came forward, and have worked so hard in so many ways and, at times, under difficult conditions and in bad weather, your service to the project can never be estimated high enough, and from the children who during holidays weeded drive and borders and stripped paper from walls, to the women who spent hours making pillows, cushions, curtains, recovering furniture and the 101 odd bits and pieces that have been seen to by them, to the men who have voluntarily and so generously decorated so many rooms and repaired and remade many bits of furniture, on behalf of my committee I extend our very deepest gratitude.
To those who cared for the house and grounds during the initial stages and by so doing, made the committee's responsibility much lighter.
To the firms responsible for the conversion and adaptation of this lovely house, also the firms who have collected and help arrange much of the furniture, our gratitude is extended.
Our very special thanks to Mr. Hutchinson & Mr. Redmore who by their voluntary labour have saved hundreds of pounds.
The committee also wish to place on record the tremendous help which has been so freely given by the following Organisations, bodies and individuals, and I am proud to mention help, which includes furnishings of entire rooms, re-upholstering of gift furniture, to donating beds, linen, china, clocks, cutlery, furniture for house and garden, articles for sickness, as well as health and recreation, and all the different things which go towards making a Home; gifts from the young (4 years) the aged (9O years) and from places as far distant as Columbia and Vancouver.
The following are mentioned and many thanks to their members who have supported them:
The Alexander Day Association
We also mention with gratitude, the help given by Mr. Drew in advice re re-construction.
From Churches and Religious bodies generous donations have been received.
From Brixham Tradespeople, generous trade concessions, many gifts of money and kind, and approx. 300 individual gifts ranging from teaspoons to cheques.
Also thanks for collecting boxes in various districts and buildings, and for the many anonymous gifts and donations.
In conclusion, I would like a word to our first residents, who, during your long and varied careers, have travelled in many different directions, may you now in this lovely house, safely anchored after the storms of life, now find the quiet haven this Home is meant to be and may you all be spared long to enjoy it.
Signed L. H. Stapleton