In 1965, at the age of 48, Ray became a Christian when he began to read the Bible, after years of neglect. He had attended church with his grandparents, who raised him after his father’s death; each Sunday they would walk to a Baptist Chapel at Crowborough, which was a distance of 3.5 miles from Eridge (East Sussex).
Ray found that there was a God who loved and cared for him, and his attitude to life began to change; he was no longer interested in making as much money as possible for himself but wanted to help people realise that there was a God who loved them, even if no one else did.
Ray and Violet’s eldest daughter, Olive, was friendly with a young Church Army Captain named Paul Deeming, who worked amongst the homeless people on the streets of London. Many of them had been sober for some weeks and wished to remain in recovery but there was no place that would give them shelter once they left and the future was bleak, often leading back to the old habits.
Ray decided to take some of these men home for rehabilitation. He offered them a four roomed flat over a garage block and they joined the family for meals, bible study and leisure at the farmhouse. The first man came in June 1967 and was a Canadian war pensioner who was able to pay a small amount towards his keep and did some work in the garden. He stayed with the family for about one year and was soon joined by three others.
The farm became overcrowded and the family decided to sell up the farm in order to purchase a much larger house, to help a greater number of homeless people. A large country estate near Maidstone called ‘Kenward’ was up for sale. It was a most impressive dwelling, with 37 rooms, standing in 15 acres of farmland and overlooking the river Medway (although it needed renovating). It had recently been vacated by Dr. Barnardos Homes because they had moved to smaller premises. In July 1968, Ray and Violet moved into Kenward House, with five children and five men.
From those modest beginnings, the Trust today takes in around 200 residents each year across eight buildings, as well as reaching hundreds of young people through prevention initiatives, and helping others with advice and support.
The aim of the Trust today is still to break through addiction and dependency and to equip people for new and productive lives. The Trust aims to help as many people as is possible, and it retains a strong Christian ethos, from which we derive our values. Our recovery and support programmes are not religious based and we welcome people from all backgrounds and faiths.