Athol Evans

Athol Evans Hospital Home

The need for a centralised high care residential home for the aged in Mashonaland was recognised in March 1972 when representatives of a number of organisations providing residential accommodation for the aged had a meeting with Chairman of the “National Council for Care of the Aged“: Sir Athol Evans. An Investigating committee, with Sir Athol as chairman, was established and tasked with acquiring all useful information on all relevant factors. Comments from all schemes providing category ‘C’ scheme accommodation were sought and the replies were analysed to ascertain the type of buildings and the facilities that would be required. The cost was expected to be high and the Rotary club of Salisbury was already committed to an extension of Fairways Home in Eastlea and construction of a Senior Citizens Centre. At the suggestion of Sir Athol it was decided to put the proposition to all service organisations in Mashonaland.

In October 1972, Sir Athol advised that a sum of $25,000 from the Vanderwaller Trust would be available for the project, however the funds had to be spent by August 1976 or they would revert to the estate of the late Mrs Vanderwaller.

The first meeting of service clubs to consider the proposition was held in December 1972 when representatives of Rotary, Jaycees, Lions Clubs, Round Table, and Soroptomists met and having declared their interest agreed to ascertain the views of their clubs and return to a future meeting.

Meanwhile the Investigating committee had already entered into negotiations with the City of Salisbury for a grant of land. These negotiations were protracted and the problems were not resolved until early 1975.

Inauguration of the project.

In a meeting in March 1975 Sir Athol advised the Investigation Committee that the City Council had donated land on the north side of Widdecombe Rd (Chiremba Rd) for the project. He also advised that the Trust Fund amounted to $35,000.and furthermore building grants towards the cost of the project would be available from the Department of Social Welfare; the State Lotteries Trustees and the Ministry of Health. The sponsors of the project would be required to provide 25% of the cost.

The project could therefore go ahead. The Investigation committee was dissolved and an Inauguration committee comprising representatives of Lions International, Rotary and Round Table was established to proceed with the project

In April 1975 the Inaugural Committee met and estimated that a $1,000 donation from each service club in Mashonaland would cover the 25% that the sponsors had to provide. The service clubs were approached but unfortunately very few clubs responded. This was the first of a series of funding problems that the project experienced.

An architect was appointed to prepare plans for a 68-bed unit to be built on the site donated

Also in 1975 a Constitution for a Trust to be known as the Combined Service Organisations Trust (C.S.O.T.) was prepared and was accepted by the Jaycees; Lions International; Rotary; Areas 3 & 4 Round Table; the Soroptimists and the Territorial Commander of the Salvation Army each of whom has the right under the chairman to nominate a member of the Management Committee of the Trust that would oversee the project The inaugural committee was dissolved.

The Management committee decided to work on an estimated cost of $300,000 exclusive of professional fees, furniture and equipment. Hence the Trust would be committed to finding $75,000.

The Combined Service Organisations Trust, Project Management committee.

The first meeting of the management committee was on 11th March 1976 and was chaired by Sir Athol. Tenders for the building had been called for and a tender of $297,337 submitted by A. Machado (Pvt) Ltd was accepted. Estimated professional fees raised the cost to $325,000 of which the Management Committee had to provide $81,250. At this time the Vanderwaller Trust fund had increased to $43,347 leaving a shortfall of $37,903 to be found by the Management Committee. Subsequently donations of 15,459 were received (Rhodesia Pioneer and Early settlers Club $12,250, the balance from Rotary and Round Table). There was therefore a shortfall of $22,444 still to be found for building works and professional fees. That figure was rounded up to $25,000.

The Management committee had to deal with an acute shortage of funds for much of the duration of the project. The shortage derived initially from the lack of significant support from club sponsors, then the construction period was given as 12 months, much shorter than the 2 years over which it had been intended to phase the building construction and fund raising programmes. Also, the general shortage of building work at that time led to work on three large projects proceeding much faster than expected leading to heavy calls on funds. In addition grant money from the Lotteries Trust and Social welfare ran out and could not be replaced until 1977. The C.S.O.T found it necessary to negotiate a temporary loan of $30,000.

It was estimated that the sum of $50,000 would be required for furniture and equipment and that the trust’s commitment would be $12,500. To meet this cost a programme of sponsored beds was launched, calling for donations of $400 per bed, from a number of organisations and including commerce and industry

In May 1987, approximately 12 months before he died, Sir Athol summarised the history of the project and particularly drew attention to the acute shortage of funding. At that time all costs for the Hospital Home had been met, although only $8,000 of the $30,000 Loan had been repaid. He noted that in 1981 extensions to the Home had been built with funding from many sources including the Service Clubs. However, as of May 1988, it had not been possible to build the 3rd Ward Block due to rising costs and lack of funds.

He noted the “friends of Athol Evans Hospital” and their valuable contact with residents a patients as well as their raising of funds. With regard to the latter he stressed the primary responsibility should remain with the Service clubs.

Taffy Evans a leader who lived the Rotary Motto “Service above Self”

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