60 Stories: How LDN London was founded

BY: Ciaran Willis


Our organisation began with five mothers and their love and determination.

60 years ago, Gillian Keatley was a young mum with a child who had learning disabilities.

She couldn’t find local education or help for her child and decided to look for other mothers in the same situation. She advertised in the local newspaper that she would hold a meeting in her flat in Marylebone.

Four other mothers, Ann Copeman, Vi Mullins, Nancy Lee and Liz Aherne, turned up to that get-together. They had all struggled to find local services for their children with learning disabilities. So they decided to set up their own nursery.

Their main goal was to help their children to reach their potential. Sadly, at the time, this was a radical and unusual idea.

In the 1960s people with learning disabilities were not given a chance in life. They were hidden in hospitals and institutions. Many people thought that people with learning disabilities had no potential, so they didn’t give them the opportunity to learn new things or develop skills.

Fortunately, these women disagreed.

It was through the meeting of these five mothers that LDN London (then called the Marylebone and Paddington Society for Mentally Handicapped Children) was born.

It took some time before this gathering of mothers became an official charity. And many many people have done amazing work to help us grow since then.

After 60 years, the aim which drove those mothers, to help people to reach their potential, is still what makes us do what we do today.

Pictured is the unveiling of a plaque in 2012 to celebrate the women who founded the organisation.

Thanks to Shirley Rodwell for her help with information for this post.

We are telling 60 stories to celebrate our anniversary. Please consider donating to help us continue for another 60 years: https://www.justgiving.com/wspld


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