St Loye's Foundation, Beaufort House, 51 New North Road, Exeter, EX4 4EP / T 01392 255428 / E |  Accessibility:

History of St Loye’s

St Loye’s history is marked by an act of vision by an inspirational woman, Dame Georgiana Buller DBE.

Dame Georgiana was born at Downes, Credition, in Devon, in 1883. Awarded the Royal Red Cross for her work in supporting charities, Dame Georginia was the driving force behind the creation of St Loye’s in 1937.

She put forward the need to create a residential training college for disabled people. Her vision was that training and employment support should be given to help disabled people to achieve their potential and overcome the barriers they faced in society.

Dame Georgiana led an army of volunteers who were active in fundraising for St Loye’s in its early days. The volunteers even ran a fundraising ‘flower ball’ at the Savoy Hotel, London, in 1947.

We have benefited from the support of many inspiring people throughout our history, including figures like the Battle of Britain flying ace Sir Douglas Bader, who was a long-standing supporter of St Loye’s. Her Majesty the Queen has been our Patron for many years.

Throughout our history, we have benefited from gifts of time and funding from many friends and supporters.

Find out more about Our Patron

  • Dame Georgiana Buller DBE
  • Dame Georgiana Buller DBE
  • Sir Douglas Bader
  • Trainees in 1954
  • Trainees in 1955
  • Trainees in Cornwall 1955
  • The Queen visits
  • The Queen visits
  • National Training Awards 1993
  • The Queen visits in 2010

Our history timeline

Click here to view the 1930s
1937 – St Loye’s Founded by Dame Georgina Buller.
1937 – Course options included Horological repairs, cookery, house/handyman and gardening.
1937 – July saw the arrival of the first trainees, by 1938, there were 25 trainees.
1938 – Dame Violet Wills, known Philanthropist generous donation allowed Millbrook House to be purchased to allow training.
1939 – The War Years – placed on the Central Register of Accommodation reserved for Government purposes and included in the official scheme for the treatment of war casualties – beds increased from 40 to 70.
Click here to view the 1940s
1941 – by the end of its first four years of existence the centre had achieve the objectives of its founders: short-term vocational training without maximum age limit; rehabilitation of injured persons capable of complete recovery of function by means of specially directed remedial work; the provision of economic employment under sheltered conditions for trainees unsuited for work in outside industry.
1943 – by 1943, 63 women trainees had been admitted, 19 ex-trainees were in economic employment at the college and 4,677 treatments had been recorded in the occupational therapy department for the benefit of war casualties.
1946 – by 1946 the college had 105 beds for men and 52 for women, 19 courses and a n occupational therapy department.
Click here to view the 1950s
1950 – The College acquired its own Coat-of-Arms and motto.
1953 – Dame Georgiana Buller sadly passed. She will be remembered for her great gifts as a public speaker, fund raiser and her unbounded capacity for sheer hard work.
1953 –George Northcott accepts Chairmanship, he had a wide interest in many fields particularly the world of industry, and he carried out the role with skill and understanding
Click here to view the 1960s
1960 – The late 50s and early 60s were characterised by steady growth and planning for the future. An improved financial position enabled the College to introduce more courses relevant to industries’ needs.
1963 – Sadly due to a long illness George Northcott passed, he left behind a legacy through his hard work, imagination and ingenuity. He eliminated a large debt and put the College on a firm financial footing.
1963 – Sir Henry Studdy CBE takes over as Chairman, continuing to pioneer the work of further developments.
1965 – The spectacular achievement of 1965 was the completion on schedule of the new Workshops and Classroom and their ceremonial opening by Group Captain Douglas Bader CBE, DSO, DFC on July 21st.
1966 – In October the new Recreation Hall extension was added, providing additional facilities for winter recreational activities. New Kitchens were also completed thanks to the generosity of the Trustees of the North Devon Foundation.
1969 – A significant year, increased voluntary income through a successful television appeal via the BBC from Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader.
Click here to view the 1970s
1972 – The College changes its title from St. Loye’s College for the Training and Rehabilitation of the Disabled to St. Loyes’s College for Training the Disabled for Commerce and Industry.
1972 – In the previous 12 months the College trained 230 men and women of whom 213 were placed in worthwhile jobs.
1974 – Far reaching and comprehensive development plans announced comprising five interrelated programmes of work including extension of workshop facilities, new technical and catering stores etc.
1979 – Despite economic gloom and worsening employment situation, 1979 was a year of progress and solid achievement. The highlight was Friday 9th November when the College was honoured by the visit of its Patron, Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh to officially open the extended and modernised residential hostel, Northcott House.
Click here to view the 1980s
1982 – Sadly, a single event dominated 1982, the College was sadden and shocked by the sudden death of the President, Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader on September 4th. He had been an inspiration to trainees and students alike.
1983 – To meet the needs of a growing number of applicants, the College decided to modify its entry criteria to admit any young person considered likely to benefit personally, socially and educationally from the Further Education course and to complete it as to enhance their chances of securing an independent working life.
1984 – The College produces video films on Adult Training and The Further Education Unit for wide distribution within the Disablement Advisory Service and Specialist Careers Service.
1986 – A highlight of the year was the launch of the College’s Golden Jubilee Appeal by Lieutenant Colonel The Earl of Morley, Lord Lieutenant for Devon.
1987 – The College now provided a 36-week programme of modular training in Office Skills for all entrants.
1987 – Throughout 1987 the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of the foundation of the College took pride of place.
1987 – The highlight of the year was on the 8th October when the College was honoured with a visit from Her Royal Highnesss, The Princess Royal, formally opening the new Commercial Skills suite extension and presenting diplomas to St. Loye’s School students at their graduation ceremony.
Click here to view the 1990s
1994 – The School of Occupational Therapy reaches its 50th year since it was founded in 1944 with just seven students. By 1994 the School had 300 students, all training to be occupational therapists. The reputation of the School was such that each year around 2,000 people compete for 100 places a year on offer.
1997 – Diamond Jubilee celebrations are held to mark the 60th anniversary of St Loye’s. The celebrations include a grand auction of promises to raise funds for the Diamond Jubilee appeal. It was estimated that at the time of the anniversary more than 16,000 people had been through the gates of St Loye’s since its founding in 1937.
Click here to view 2000+
2008 – St Loye’s Foundation moves from its Topsham Road site to new headquarters in the centre of Exeter.
2012 – This year sees St Loye’s Foundation celebrate its 75th anniversary. One of the highlights being a celebration with friends and supporters at Exeter Cathedral.
2015 – Early in the year we join forces with the Community Care Trust (South West) Limited, a mental health charity.