Fascinating history of Britain's first 'Home for Heroes' in Hampshire village

WATCH: Rachel Hepworth's report on the origins of Enham Alamein. She speaks to CEO of the Enham Trust Heath Gunn, lifelong resident of Enham, Doug Saunders, and charity shop volunteer Paula Cusworth.

For a hundred years, the unique village of  Enham Alamein near Andover has been enabling people to reach their potential in a safe and caring community.

Founded after the First World War, to help injured soldiers return to work, the Enham Trust  continues to help disabled people fulfil their ambitions and break down barriers. 

 Even in 1921 it  represented  a radical new approach to the care of war veterans, becoming the very first rehabilitation centre for soldiers returning from the Great War.

One of the skills taught was basket weaving

"The idea of the village as it was first formed was to get them back on their feet and gain skills to  integrate back into society" says current CEO of the Enham Trust, Heath Gunn.

"That has moved all the way through the organisation. It's as relevant now as it was then."

Fifty disabled ex-servicemen and their families initially came to Enham - where physical recovery was combined with learning new skills, like basket-weaving, furniture making, and working on the land.

Those families were known as settlers, and among the first was Walter Saunders and his wife Catherine.

They had several children, including Douglas, who, now aged  93, still lives in the village, a few doors from the cottage where he was born.

Doug Saunders as a boy, and, aged 93, outside the house where he was born

"From the start you realised this was a unique village," he says.

"They was the best bunch of fellas you could ever meet.

"They used to break into song, like There's a Long way to Tipperary- the foreman would tell them to shut up ad they'd just carry on and it was just a good atmosphere between all the old soldiers"

But the early days saw plenty of VIP visitors. King George V backed the scheme along with politicians and showbiz stars - the royal princesses visited too.

"It was sort of a celebrity thing to do to be involved in the evolution of this village in helping  it build and grow." says Heath. "The plaques on the houses show who donated the money to build them."

Enham expanded to help the war effort - and afterwards received a quarter of a quarter of a million pounds from Egyptian government, grateful for British sacrifice at the Battle of El Alamein.

A newspaper article commemorating the bequest from the Egyptian government

Led by Montgomery, the offensive pushed the Germans and Italians out of north Africa, safeguarding Middle East oilfields.

The donation was worth around 8 million today, and it was decided the village should be re-named Enham Alamein.

Since the war the focus has turned from helping military heroes to supporting others too- 250 thousand in total. 

The Trust now helps more than 6000 disabled people each year, to live, work and enjoy life to the full.

From empowering people to contribute to society, to providing independent living and social opportunities, Enham is now looking to the NEXT hundred years.