History, Mission, Values, Principles
Ashfield Baptist Homes was established in 1950 under the leadership of Reverend Harry Orr.
However, our legacy as an aged care facility extends back even further.
In the early 1930s Christian nurse Ann Scurr felt the need for a place of refuge for elderly folk. Ann nursed during World War I and through the disastrous influenza epidemic of 1918-19. Widowed at a young age, she had no finances, but she followed the courage of her convictions through prayer and searching for the right property.
In 1931 she inspected ‘Surbiton’, an 1881 federation home belonging to local solicitor Marsham a’Beckett and his wife Edith. The house was perfect, but there was only one problem. A holding deposit of £50 was needed – an average three-month salary in those days. Ann believed firmly that ‘the Lord will provide’. On the final day of the holding period, an anonymous £50 donation arrived in the mail.
As the a’Beckett family home.
Courtesy Ashfield & District Historical Society
The next step for Matron Scurr, as she became known, was to secure a bank loan and meet the regular repayments. Not an easy ask for someone with no income or equity during the Depression years. But her enterprise touched the local bank manager’s inner soul, and he agreed.
After Matron moved in, furniture and more cash donations began to flow in. She was chastised by her Brethren congregation for being rash in stringent times, but she never wavered from her vision. The house was named Bethel Rest Home (‘God’s House’) and Matron never defaulted on a single payment.
Matron’s incredible Christian faith and demeanour was constantly referred to in recollections. Bethel’s reputation grew and by 1933 there were three Christian nurses.
“Our method of transport was a pushbike for messages to the butcher, pharmacy and some others. The baker and milkman called every day.” John Howes (Retired), Baptist Minister
By 1950 Matron’s church congregation was keen to acquire Bethel. But this created a dilemma for her. They made it clear that the care home would be restricted only to members of that denomination, to the point of removing existing residents.
Ann was loyal to her church, but its intention was foreign to her philosophy. In 1950 Harry Orr was the Minister at Ashfield Baptist Church and a mature and experienced theologian. Matron was swayed by Harry’s assurances that the home would continue to accept people from all denominations, whether Christian or not.
In June 1950 Ashfield Baptist Church became the lessee of Bethel Nursing Home. Ashfield Baptist Homes operations began with just 23 residents, but by 1997 the facility was transformed into the dual-facility, 136-bed, modern, comfortable and high-tech operation it is today.