Maidenhead Centre for the Handicapped
Hugo Schwab was born in Berlin in 1891 and came to England in 1938. His wife, however, was unable to leave and died in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. He settled in South Wales, where he set up a factory making precision machine parts for the RAF. There he met and married Marjorie Hall, whose family owned a chemist shop in Maidenhead High Street. In 1950 they settled in Maidenhead, where he developed both an engineering and a building business. As well as supporting the synagogue, he was also a generous benefactor to various local causes. He built the extension to the King George VI Memorial Club in York Road for Elderly People, helped fund Castle Hill Youth Centre (now demolished), and bought Highview, a three-storey house at 6 North Road to be used by the Maidenhead Society for Mental Health. The latter was opened by Lady Bowes-Lyon, a cousin of the Queen in April 1964. The plaque on the building revealed the particular motive behind his generosity: 'This building was endowed as a centre for the handicapped by Hugo Schwab and his wife, Marjorie, in gratitude for the kindness and friendship extended to him by the people of this country in time of trouble and persecution'.
Source: “Royal Jews” – a book on the history of Berkshire Jewry by Rabbi Jonathan Romain of Maidenhead Synagogue.
Highview, bought in 1962 by Hugo Schwab and donated to the people of Maidenhead, was to be used for helping handicapped people and was placed in Trust as "Maidenhead Centre for the Handicapped" for this purpose. For a number of years it was used as the Adult Training Centre, but when they had a purpose-built building provided, Highview closed. In 1977 the Trustees offered Highview to Maidenhead Mencap as its headquarters and as a venue for its activities.
From the beginning Maidenhead Mencap realised it could not use Highview to its full potential, nor could Mencap afford to run it alone. It formed a committee to manage the building. Apart from the property itself the Trust had no funds, assets or income for upkeep. Mencap looked around for suitable groups to share the accommodation in order to spread the costs of upkeep and maintenance and soon found that office space was much needed by several local charitable organisations dealing with persons with handicaps. Maidenhead Mencap presently shares Highview with the Highview Toy Library, re:chargeR&R, Maidenhead Voluntary Car Service and Alzheimers Society.
The services offered have varied from time to time. Mencap Monday Club is for our able bodied members and has been running for many years. The Wednesday Club caters for the more severely disabled.
Highview receives a lot of help and support from friends. Dulux donated paint for decorating on several occasions. Generous donations from The Shanly Foundation and the Louis Baylis Maidenhead Advertiser Charitable Trust enabled replacement of the central heating boiler with a safer system and repairs to the roof. A Summer House has been erected in the Highview garden funded by donations received in memory of Elaine Freer.
Mencap has provided a Sensory Garden initially funded from donations received in memory of two members, Grete Winton and Derek Robinson. Several plants and pieces of equipment have also been provided to remember absent friends. Their loved ones are always welcome to come and sit in the garden, which is becoming a haven of memories as well as a place of calm, peace and beauty.
The management committee attends to the financial needs and obligations of Highview by gathering in contributions from the various occupants of the offices and rooms and by its commercial letting of a self-contained flat at the top of the buidling. A year on year maintenance and repairs schedule is kept under regular review so that potential problems are kept to a minimum. To this end the management committee does an excellent job.
The various occupying groups get on well together understanding each other's problems and sharing their joys. It is often said that professionals and volunteers cannot work together successfully. Some organisations have paid staff - many jobs, after all, require special training. At Highview, professionals and volunteers work side by side all respecting each other for the contribution that they make. Within the walls of Highview there is an incalculable wealth of giving that comes with teams of workers devoting their time, energy and understanding to help people who are less fortunate and those who care for them
Copyright Maidenhead Mencap Society (c)2004-2020