20 years with Levin War Vets

A tribute to our veterans at Levin War Veterans Home

Today marks a significant twenty years since Enliven’s parent company, Presbyterian Support Central, took over – and transformed – Levin War Veterans Home.

At the time, the future of the Home was a hot topic for politicians and media. In an extract from our history book, we learn of the bureaucracy.

Saving the War Vets by Graham Worthington

The Levin Home for War Veterans was a political hot potato for the Labour Party.

After the war, the Government set up the Patriotic and Canteen Fund for homes that were being run for returned servicemen. The Levin Home was getting very run down.

People were up in arms, and the media got on to it, and suggested that people, who had fought for their country, were being thrown out on the street.

The Patriotic and Canteen Fund Board came to us, and said could we help? We said we would have a serious look at it.

At the same time the other homes run by the Patriotic Board were keen to get the money to us on their own facilities.

Mark Burton, who was the minister at the time, decided that our proposal was the most appropriate. Others were suggesting it should have been at a much higher price. It was all getting into a bit of a tangle. Shots were going across eachother’s bows, from left, right and centre, and a few through the wheelhouse.

Finally, I said to Bill East, ‘We better have a meeting with Mark Burton’.

The room was lined with officials. They were all there. Bill spoke, and said, ‘We want to keep them all here as family. It’s their home. But, if we can’t get it at a price that will make it work, we will walk away.

So we got up, and went to leave. And Mark Burton said, ‘Bill, wait would you please’.

He spoke about the political implications from his point of view of having this thing off the agenda, and out of the media, and out of his face.

So we went out of the room, and left them to decide whether they would take our offer.

Then he picked up the phone and got his officials to make an appointment with each of the three chairmen of the other regions to tell them to get off the patch. He cleared the deck.

The government got a good deal out of it. They got the issue off the political plate. From our point of view, we’d keep the home going with the old blokes, and we improved the home. Win for the RSA. Win for Presbyterian Support Central. Win for the government.

It is those sorts of things that give me great joy.

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