I have read the recent correspondence about the Cadburys and Bournville (Letters, 23 and 28 September, 5 October) with great interest; my own family has benefited from the tradition of philanthropy and social justice of the Cadbury family since 1920.
“Uncle” Edward and “Aunt” Dorothy Cadbury became guardians of my mother, Elizabeth Aytoun, and her younger sisters, Joanna and Alison, after their father, Robert Aytoun, died suddenly at the age of 41 in 1920. Robert had been a Presbyterian minister and tutor at Woodbrooke College in Birmingham, where he and Edward first became friends, and after his death the Cadburys supported his widow and his three young daughters (who would have otherwise struggled, in those pre-welfare state days). The Cadburys purchased a small semi-detached house for the family in Weoley Hill, Bournville, and paid for the three girls to attend St Leonard’s School in St Andrews, and then for their time at university. My aunt, who is now 101, recalls that whenever anyone was unwell a Cadbury chauffeur would arrive with a chicken – a great treat in those days.
Edward Cadbury helped my mother to travel to Barcelona to work with refugee children during the Spanish civil war. There she met my father, who was also a volunteer. Edward took a great personal interest in the refugees, regularly asking for updates, providing financial assistance, and even sending powdered milk and large tins of (Bournville!) cocoa. Edward also gave money and support when my mother later tried to accommodate refugees fleeing Czechoslovakia and Germany in the late 1930s.
Dame Elizabeth Cadbury presented an organ to the Weoley Hill United Reform Church in memory of Robert Aytoun in 1939 and the two families remained close until Edward’s death in 1948. I still have a glass necklace given by Edward and Dorothy to my mother on her 21st birthday, and I treasure it as a link to this part of my family’s history, and to a remarkable couple.
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