A guest of honour from France was invited to Wellingborough to help open a housing association’s new town development.
Pauline Genu, a 94-year-old, from Saint Nazaire, is the daughter of Jeanne Mitchell – who ran a convalescent home known as Spring Hill on the site of Wellingborough Homes’ new development during the Second World War.
The home cared for more than 360 injured soldiers between 1940 and 1944 and Jeanne later became one of the first women to join the French army as a nurse where she was awarded the Croix de Guerre, a top French military decoration.
The new scheme has been named Mitchell Court in honour of Mrs Genu’s mother.
The day was made particularly special as Mrs Genu and her family were also accompanied to the event by 93-year-old Walter Weininger, who at the age of around 14 was taken in and cared for by Jeanne Mitchell in 1938.
Pauline Genu said: “I am so touched by the fact my family are being remembered and that the site has been named after my mother. It is an honour to be here today as it brings back many memories of those four years of the war. They are memories I cannot ever forget.”
Wellingborough Homes invited the first customer to move into their new shared ownership home at Mitchell Court, Elizabeth Liddell to cut the red ribbon, and Tim Davy, Chair of Wellingborough Homes, Councillor Martin Griffiths, the Leader of the Borough Council of Wellingborough and Mrs Genu all gave speeches.
Tim Davy, Chair of Wellingborough Homes, said: “We are very delighted to have brought this historic site back into use and it was an absolute pleasure to have the daughter of Jeanne Mitchell and her family there to celebrate with us. I was very pleased to be joined by key partners, such as the Borough Council of Wellingborough, Seagrave Developers and BHC Architects who all played a big part in the development of the site.
“I would also like to thank the Wellingborough Homes staff who worked hard to ensure the development and handover of these much needed new affordable homes went smoothly. Mitchell Court is very much part of our continuing commitment to develop and invest in Wellingborough and we’re delighted to also have a chance to pay tribute to what is a very special slice of Wellingborough’s history.”
Councillor Martin Griffiths, Leader of the Borough Council of Wellingborough, said: “Wellingborough Council has priorities to promote high quality growth to improve life chances for young people. This new development complements the nearby Knights Court scheme and it not only provides excellent new homes but it has reinvigorated the whole area. It has also helped us achieve our affordable housing targets 15 months early”.