During the Second World War, Dr Rowland “Ginger” Farrell had served his country as an RAF night fighter pilot. Afterwards, he retrained as a doctor and joined a practice in Crawley. He married Pamela.
After a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, Rowland spent many months in a London Hospital basement. He was offered a holiday in a Cheshire home and whilst there he gave help to residents and staff with his medical knowledge.
The Farrell’s first-hand knowledge of the help they had received inspired them to start campaigning for a Cheshire home to be built in Crawley. On 1st June 1960, Pamela set up a fundraising stall at Crawley carnival. The weather was terrible and lots of people sheltered at her stall because it was the only one with any cover from the rain. They raised £40 (£1000 in today’s money) and by the end of the year had enough to buy a Victorian house called Heatherley on the edge of Copthorne Common.
Heatherley opened in May 1961 with 13 residents and grew to accommodate 39. Rowland, who lived at Heatherley, died in 1966 and in his memory Pamela began a project to build 12 specially fitted bungalows to enable a married couple to continue to live together (if one or both became disabled).These bungalows were the first of their kind and after much work (and a donation from the Ernest Kleinwort Charitable Foundation) the first bungalow was occupied in time for Heatherley’s seventh birthday on 1st May 1968.