Neville and Elaine Blond

Neville and Elaine and their family donated the entire building to the hospital

Neville Blond imageNeville Blond was born in 1901. He grew up assuming once he finished education his future would be set in the family textile business.

This all changed with the advent of World War I, where he served for four years with the Royal Horse Guards, having a distinguished career, ending as Major, with the Croix de Guerre, Legion d'Honneur, and a post as Liaison Officer with the Ministry of War in Paris. 

He served again in WW2, this time in the R.A.F., and later with the Ministry of Production, and his knowledge of economics and trade led to his appointment to the Central Economic Planning Staff, in a specially created post of United Kingdom Trade adviser in the United States, to seek new markets for British goods. In 1945 he received the O.B.E, and was appointed C.M.G. in 1950. 

His interest in surgery developed after his marriage to Elaine Blond in 1944.

Elaine was born in 1902, the youngest daughter of Michael Marks, the Russian Polish immigrant who founded the Marks and Spencer empire. One of her most important achievements was the tireless and vital work she did for the Refugee Children's Movement in the 1930s an 40s rescuing Jewish children from Nazi occupied Europe. A strong minded women who loathed inactivity she would become an important patron of the sciences and the arts.

Whilst living near East Grinstead, they became intimate friends of Sir Archibald McIndoe, and took a great interest in the welfare of the airmen treated at the Queen Victoria Hospital.

They opened up their house to these “Guinea Pigs” and many of them would stay there, whilst they went through rehabilitation.

In 1959 they donated a block of research laboratories to be built within the Queen Victoria Hospital grounds. In order to administer the new project, a board of trustees was formed, with Neville as chairman. Though Sir Archibald died before building commenced, the plan was carried through, and within two years the laboratory size was doubled through a further donation from Elaine and Neville.

In 1964 the need arose for a modern Burns Centre at Queen Victoria Hospital in which the fruits of research could be brought to severely burned patients, and the apparently impossible attainment of this expensive proposal was made possible when Neville and Elaine and their family donated the entire building to the hospital. Neville’s activities thus led to the formation of one of the foremost Transplantation Research units in the world and a unique centre for the treatment of the severely burned.

Elaine Blond imageAfter Neville’s death, Elaine carried on their work in maintaining the momentum of research work at East Grinstead. She stood as chairman of the foundation between 1970 and 1985.

The Blond family connection is still maintained today by Neville’s son Peter who is a patron and keen to continue the legacy made by his father and step mother.

To read about Peter please visit his page, click here.

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