It all began in Lourdes in the 1960s when Leonard Cheshire saw the large number of disabled pilgrims there from Barcelona. He approached the young Mercè Escrigas (current vice president of the Llars de l’Amistat Cheshire Foundation) and asked where they all lived. The answer was that they were living in hospitals.
Leonard Cheshire told Mrs Escrigas and her colleague Margarita Valls about the work he was doing in the UK to set up homes for disabled people. They were very impressed by the project and were inspired to do something similar in Spain. Leonard Cheshire agreed to help and advise, emphasising the importance of making real ‘homes’ for disabled people.
Mrs Escrigas and Mrs Valls were joined by Dr Mariano Supervía and two nurses, and together they enthusiastically began looking for suitable buildings for the homes. In 1968 they were joined by Mr Adams, a close colleague of Leonard Cheshire, who supported them in their search and in establishing the homes.
The first home, Casa Las Planas, was established in 1969, followed by Casa Sans (1973), another in Madrid (1973) and Benedetti (1974). Leonard Cheshire visited the homes on several occasions throughout the years, his last visit being in 1992. During his visits to Barcelona, he stood out as a man of principles, religious and with a great solidarity.
A happy man, smiling, humane, close and kind. And a great tennis player. During the 1970s, he became great friends with the first president of the foundation, Dr Mariano Supervía.
We can say that, thanks to him, his advice, knowledge and experience, we have been managing homes for over 50 years. We now support more than 300 people, all of whom feel at home. And we have been able to create the Sant Jordi Center where we have 33 apartments totally adapted for temporary stays, with many visitors from other countries. It is really emotional for us to be able to offer what for some people with disabilities is their first opportunity to travel abroad.
Thanks to Leonard Cheshire, his advice, knowledge and experience, we have been managing homes for over 50 years.