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Greatwell Homes’ biggest site to date honours French World War Two nursing heroes

On 20th March, Greatwell Homes invited key organisations and partners to celebrate the opening of our newest and biggest affordable housing scheme to date. We were delighted to also be joined by a lady who played a significant part in the history of the site; 94-year-old Mrs Genu travelled all the way from Saint-Nazaire in France especially for the opening ceremony.

Back in World War Two, Mrs Genu’s mother Mrs Jeanne Mitchell, ran a Free French convalescent home known as ‘Spring Hill’ which was located on the site in Gold Street, Wellingborough. Between 1940 and 1944, Mrs Genu and her family cared for over 360 injured soldiers of all nationalities. She later became one of the first women to join the French army as a nurse and was also awarded the Croix de Guerre, a top French decoration. Mitchell Court has been named in honour of Mrs Genu’s mother.

The day celebrated the historic story of Mitchell Court with Mrs Genu giving a speech, as well as bringing a display of photos and memories of her family’s history.

Before opening their doors to soldiers, the Mitchell family had initially housed evacuees. The official opening was made particularly special as Mrs Genu and her family were also accompanied to the event by 93-year-old Walter Weininger, who was taken in and cared for by Mrs Mitchell at the age of just 14.

Pauline Genu said: “I am so touched by the fact my family are being remembered and that the site has been name 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”.

Our first shared ownership customer at Mitchell Court, Mrs Elizabeth Liddell, cutting the ribbon

On the day of the ceremony, we were also joined by the first customer to move into their new shared ownership home at Mitchell Court, Mrs Elizabeth Liddell who cut the red ribbon to officially open our Mitchell Court site. Tim Davy, the Chair of Greatwell Homes and Councillor Martin Griffiths, Leader of the Borough Council of Wellingborough also gave speeches on the day.

Tim Davy, Chair of Greatwell Homes, commented: “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 Developments and BHC Architects who all played a big part in the development of the site. I would also like to thank the Greatwell 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”.

The development, previously known as the Railway Club site, now offers 48 affordable homes – 30 affordable rent and 18 shared ownership – and is just a 10 minute walk to Wellingborough town centre and a 5 minute car journey to Wellingborough train station.

Councillor Martin Griffiths, the Leader of the Borough Council of Wellingborough, said: “Wellingborough Council has priorities to promote high quality growth to improve life chance for young people. This new development complements the nearby Knight 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 month early”.