In November 2017 a legacy was given to the Royal British Legion by Miss Michèle Donald in memory of her late father, Adam Donald, who was an Epsom resident and a career soldier. He lived from 17 January 1895 to 21 August 1974 and served in both World Wars, being in the Scots Guards from 1914 to 1919 and the Royal Artillery from 1925 to 1945. During the 1942-1945 campaign he fought alongside the Ghurkas and received the Burma Star when his regiment was stationed in South-East Asia. Adam was a very fit man and competitive cyclist, winning many medals. A display of his memorabilia “A Life In A Box” can be seen in Bourne Hall Museum in Ewell.
When the Second World War ended Adam Donald returned to civilian life in Epsom. Michèle, his only child, lived with her parents in Epsom until she moved to London in the 1950s to train as a physiotherapist. She subsequently became one of the top practitioners in the capital.
After working in Harley Street she started her own private practice and later joined BUPA as one of their main physiotherapists. Over many years she also helped injured soldiers regain their mobility during convalescent periods in hospital.
Miss Donald died in June 2016 and in her will left a legacy to the Epsom and Ewell Branch of the Royal British Legion.
The Epsom & Ewell RBL Branch Committee spent many hours trying to find a suitable use for the legacy. They decided to use a significant part of it at Mais House, Epsom & Ewell’s nearest RBL care home. Some of the money from the legacy has equipped the Butterfly Suite, a purpose-designed end of life suite, which allows residents to end their lives in peace and dignity with their loved ones around them. In the months to come more legacy money will fund the refurbishment of the dining room.
On Monday 10th February, a very special day, Barbara Warwick, Epsom and Ewell Branch Chair, Treasurer Bob Ferris and his wife Barbara and member James Martin attended the official opening ceremony of the Butterfly Suite by Jean Rogers, President of Sussex RBL. Present were the Deputy Lieutenant of Sussex Derek Stevens, the Deputy Mayor of Bexhill-on-Sea Cllr. Lyn Langlands and Nigel Allison, Chairman of Sussex RBL. Also present were six standard bearers, including County Standard Bearer Laura Parker. Officers and members of other RBL Branches were present, coming from Pett District, East Grinstead, Little Common, Hastings, Brighton, Lewes and Isle of Oxney.
Another part of the legacy went was spent locally in the Epsom area and on Wednesday 12th February a memorial RBL bench was unveiled in the newly refurbished Market Square by the Mayor of Epsom and Ewell, Cllr. John Beckett, dedicated to the memory of Adam and Michèle Donald and all of those who have been lost to war. Also present was the Project Manager for the Market Square refurbishment Dr Sam Beak, several Council office holders, a few members of the public and from Epsom and Ewell RBL Bob and Barbara Ferris, Graham Hewitt, James Martin, Keith Ovens and Peter Perry.
Zoe Milne, Michèle’s executor, feels that the use so far of Michèle’s legacy fits exactly into what Michèle would have wanted. Sadly, Zoe and her husband Mike were unable to attend either ceremony due to illness, but later in the year they will visit both Mais House and Epsom Market Square.
Epsom & Ewell RBL are very grateful to Miss Donald’s for the legacy she left the branch in memory of her father and hope she and her father would be happy with how they have spent it.