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Fond farewell to the Sunshine League

Making a difference: Miss Agnes Mae Robinson, the first president of the Sunshine League

Dear Sir,

The Sunshine League as a charitable children’s home entity has closed. Ninety-eight years of providing homeless children with beds, food and some stability. What an amazing story about this former charity.

Up until recently I only knew of Agnes Mae Robinson as the founder of this home, but as recently as last week I learnt of Etta Jones, so I must give equal praise to her co-founder. There are plenty of memories that can fill a book.

Everyone has a story, but when you entered that gate yours began to become a special and unique one.

The home was filled with anywhere up to 58 at its peak. Some children had issues (physical, physiological being the main two) that needed to be handled and managed.

No one had a playbook on how to deal with the situations that arose; the staff, though hugely understaffed, did an amazing job, looking back at it. People like the former matrons, the late Grace Talbot, Mrs Rawlins and Vivian King. All three played significant roles at their time at the helm.

All carried out the transitional phases guided by the home committees. The aforementioned committees were the ones who had the unenviable task of asking, pleading for support to keep the children’s hopes alive. If I had to signal out a family for high praise, it would be the King family.

The late Vivian O’Donnell King, the mother of Dr King, was a mainstay on the committee and no doubt much was achieved under her stewardship. Lauren King was the former president of the Sunshine League and the wife of Dr King. They were great role models for those that observed, combining hard work with patience and a willingness to endure among the most difficult times. The challenges were all met and the children came out the better for it.

A historical fact that should never be forgotten, the name of the late Maria Benn, later Ible, who, along with her husband put on parties before the children went back to school that turned into her famous block parties.

One can imagine that by today’s standards, the requirements to run a facility like this would cost a fortune.

In closing, sir, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those that contributed to the wellbeing of hundreds of unfortunate children.

Thanks to all those women during the early years that served on the committees and a special thank you to their spouses for making the sacrifices. And all the local businesspeople who donated food and the essential needs to run the facility. The two governors of note during my time there, the late Lord Martonmere and Sir Edwin Leather; I had the pleasure of standing and answering questions during their Christmas visits to the home.

To say a sad day is upon me is an understatement.

I spent the heart of my growing years at the pink house on top of the hill. I saw many comings as much as goings during my time there and I value all my brothers and sisters I made at The Sunshine League.

A big hearty thank you!

I wish The Family Centre great success in its future endeavours!

The end of an era.