At the moment, my mother and I are clearing out and cleaning up the house in preparation to put it on the market. It’s a process which has led to inevitable reminiscing and recollections about the past, one interesting example being a chat we had while I was cleaning the windows recently. It’s a very brief story, but I thought it might be interesting to anyone who remembers the place mentioned in the title.
The RNIB used to have a rehabilitation and training centre for the visually impaired down in Torquay, called Manor House. It closed in 2004 due to lack of funds, but my mother still has very fond memories of it, because it helped her to find work, and it’s where she met the man who became her husband and my father. They actually lived fairly near to each other in London at the time, and had travelled down on the same train without realising it, so they first met at Manor House itself. They both enjoyed their time there, and both got a lasting relationship and career out of it.
My mother still has a special souvenir of her time there, which is what triggered our conversation. It’s a stool, which she made herself while she was there. The wooden legs were made by someone else who was doing woodwork, but the weaved blue and red patterned seat was all my mother’s handiwork. It’s very impressive, certainly to me anyway, and it’s still in good condition today. A bit dirty, sure, but otherwise fine. It’s been sat on and stood on countless times over the past few decades (including when I was doing the windows a couple of days ago), but it’s still holding up well and fit for purpose, and my mother’s rightly proud of it. She didn’t go into that kind of thing as a line of work in the end, but it was one of many things she was good at while she was going through the training.
So that simple little stool has great significance and triggers a lot of fond memories, because it’s handmade and unique, and is a reminder of a very special time and place. Clearly the training and support my parents received at Manor House was very beneficial, and I can understand that it must have been incredibly helpful to many others. So I’m not surprised that people were protesting about its closure in 2004. I don’t know what the equivalent places are to Manor House today – the news reports about its closure say its services were moving to Taunton, but as that was over 10 years ago, I don’t know what the current state of play is, especially if funding for training continues to be difficult.
But in any case, my family are very grateful for the services Manor House provided back then. If anybody else has memories of that place, or if you’ve built something significant and long-lasting that you’re proud of, feel free to share it in the comments. 🙂