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The Anniversary of our Founder's Birthday

06 May 2021

Today marks the anniversary of the birthday of our founder, Grace Kimmins. Grace's pioneering views around disability have shaped our culture today.

Dame Grace Kimmins was born in Lewes on 6 May 1870. At a time when society believed 'children should be seen but not heard', Grace was a pioneering advocate of the benefits of play and started the 'Guild of Play' where girls could learn to dance and perform. In 1894 she then went on to set up a Guild that gave people, often not valued by society or supported because of their disability, a community offering companionship where abilities where nurtured.

Grace's ambition to better the lives of young people with disabilities continued in 1903 when she returned to the East Sussex countryside of her childhood, to convert an old warehouse into a boarding school, where boys could learn a craft to help them live independently in adulthood.

Just three years later in 1906 Grace opened the girls school on the new Heritage site. Here, girls living with disabilities could learn the skills necessary for domestic service.

There's more detail about Grace's story in our bi-annual newsletter, Discover, as well as inspirational stories and news from the Foundation. You can sign up to receive our Summer edition here.

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