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Our history


Lady Laura Fergusson, wife of then Governor General, was deeply concerned at seeing so many young faces in geriatric wards when on her official visits to hospitals throughout the country. With support from friend Lady Mary Caughey, she encouraged a meeting to be held at Government House in 1967 and as a result a National Trust was formed to “assist disabled persons in the solution to their residential problems.

Lady Fergusson became Patron of the Trust and injected a great deal of enthusiasm into her work with Women’s Auxiliaries. She was an inspiration, lending not only her name to the Trust, but her whole self to this cause in which she believed wholeheartedly.

Lady Fergusson and young family
Mrs Noelene McIlroy, past Patron of Laura Fergusson Trust

Early 1970s

The Laura Fergusson Trust Canterbury branch was formed and the first meeting of the Women’s Auxiliary Committee was held. Esteemed Patron, Mrs Noelene McIlroy was elected President and fundraising for a home at Ilam Road immediately commenced with vigour. Mrs McIlroy remained a passionate supporter of the Trust until her death in 2012.

Women’s Auxiliary fundraising ticket, Rotary fundraising event programme, Women’s Auxiliary fundraising flyer

November 1978

The final $50,000 is raised to furnish and equip the home through the efforts of the Women’s Auxiliary. Through its efforts and events, the auxiliary raised $80,000 towards the total cost of the home, allowing it to open debt free.

The residential home at 279 Ilam Road opens

March 1979

The dream of Lady Fergusson that a home for disabled young people be built in Christchurch becomes a reality. The home at 279 Ilam Road is officially opened by Lady Ballantrae (formerly Lady Laura Fergusson). Later that year Lady Ballantrae tragically passes away in Scotland in a motor vehicle accident.

A dream realised  newspaper article, A home giving special care newspaper article Lady Ballantrae (formerly Fergusson) at the opening of 279 Ilam Road


A recreation room is added to the home with $22,000 raised from the Women’s Auxiliary and Telethon.

Beverley Murray speaks at an event


Beveley Murray joins the Women’s Auxiliary, the start of a long and much valued relationship with Laura Fergusson Trust. Beveley became a Trust Board Member in the mid 1990s as President of the Women’s Auxiliary. From 2004 – 2006 she was Chairperson of the Noelene McIlroy QSO Laura Fergusson Residents’ Trust. Beveley remains our Patron today.

1991 - 1995

The residents’ lounge is extended and refurbished with funds raised by the Women’s Auxiliary and paintings donated by Canterbury artists. The Dean of the Christchurch Medical School opens a new six-bedroom wing, added to accommodate the growing demands for residential beds. Funds are also raised to extend the kitchen and dining areas.

2001 - 2005

Six self-contained studio units are built for more independent living. A new career support unit, now home to the Intensive Rehabilitation Service, is opened together with a conservatory and BBQ area.

2010 – 2014

Laura Fergusson Trust Canterbury enters a growth phase and a number of businesses are purchased to build upon and strengthen the range of services able to be offered to people with a brain, spinal and other injuries in the community. These include Insight Ltd, Home Action Team and Canterbury Homecare Trust, our Berrywood residential home.

Laura Fergusson Trust Canterbury wins the contract to deliver intensive inpatient services for traumatic brain injury.

Client and staff member at work for Can Do Catering


Our social enterprise, Can Do Catering is established, employing residents of Laura Fergusson Trust and providing them with real jobs. The following year, Can Do Catering is recognised as a finalist in the Canterbury Chamber of Commerce Business Awards.


Laura Fergusson Trust Canterbury is awarded two continuous improvement commendations for quality of service.


Brain injury research became a key focus area with the appointment of a full-time researcher and the trust was awarded host status with the Canterbury Medical Research Foundation.

The Mobility Hub is opened, to deliver one stop wheelchair and seating assessment services and grant funds of $24,200 are raised to support the new initiative.

A client outside our Mobility Hub


The Laura Fergusson Foundation is established as a registered charity to raise funds for the redevelopment of the facilities at 279 Ilam Road.

Funding is secured to continue with ground breaking research using virtual reality technology in brain injury rehabilitation.

A woman wearing a VR headset

An event is held at the Christchurch Town Hall to recognise and celebrate 40 years of services to residents at 279 Ilam Road.

CEO Kathryn Jones with clients and whanau at our 40th celebration


A new name and brand for the Laura Fergusson Trust Canterbury is launched – The Laura Fergusson Brain Injury Trust.