JP Bayly Trust

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The reception area of the Suva Medical Centre
The reception area of
the Medical Clinic, Suva
Fifty three years ago, in an unassuming building on Rodwell Road in Fiji's capital, Suva, the Bayly Clinic opened for business six days a week at 7.30 am. For the next 12 hours, people filled the waiting room and lined passageways. Doctors saw and treated patients virtually nonstop. The standard charge was two shillings. That fee was waived in cases of genuine destitution. The practice continues today.

Along the passage from the surgery, the social welfare section of the Clinic reviewed needy cases, dispensed food parcels and arranged jobs and housing whenever possible for many of Fiji's poor.

The Bayly Clinic is an institution in Fiji. Each year, more than 25,000 people come from villages, outer city suburbs and communities, as well as central Suva, to receive assistance. The Clinic represents medicine with a heart, and fills a void in services to the poor and disadvataged.

Food shelves
Food shelves
This is part of the legacy of the late Dr.George Hemming who managed the Bayly Clinic from its opening in 1954, until his retirement to New Zealand in 1982. "Doc' Hemming", a Queenslander who came to live in Fiji in 1939, was a no-nonsense, generous hearted GP. He was available to anyone, at anytime. He was also a trained teacher and ordained Anglican priest, and died in New Zealand on 26th July, 2003.

George Hemming believed there was little advantage in curing conditions such as anaemia, venereal disease and malnutrition … three of the most common complaints among his patients … without tackling the social and economic problems that caused them. This philosophy shaped the early work of the Bayly Clinic, prompting the establishment of a social welfare section to complement the medical division.

The Clinic is named after its late benefactor, Fiji-born John Percy Bayly, who is regarded as one of Fiji's greatest philanthropists. Millionaire, recluse, rationalist and agriculturalist, Bayly owned vast tracts of land in Fiji, much of it in the fertile Sigatoka Valley. He had few personal ties and no family of his own.

In 1954, nine years before his death at the age of 81, John Bayly established the JP Bayly Trust which bought the land and financed the building for the Clinic. The Clinic is just one of the many causes which have benefited from his fortune.

Dr. Hemming and JP Bayly shared a common concern for the increasing numbers of poor. In the first months of its operation, more than 80 people a day visited the Clinic. Almost all of these qualified for the concession rates by virtue of earning less than four pounds a week.

Food Shelves
Food package for distribution
Three mornings a week, volunteers staff the Clinics social walfare section. With women from the Anglican Society of St. Francis and St. Claire, they package and dispense food parcels, Glaxo for babies, clothing, and other goods.

As the number of the less fortunate receiving charity grew, operations of the welfare section developed separately from that of the Clinic. Early Almoners included Mary Chadwick, Shirley Hemming, and Sheila Jones. They were also active in raising funds to extend the scope of the welfare section. Much of the Welfare work has now become the responsibility of full-time Almoners on the JP Bayly Trust payroll. For almost 20 years all welfare funds were provided by the Society of St. Francis and St. Claire, with the JP Bayly Trust providing the building and meeting the costs for electricity, water, and telephone. The trust's first cash contribution from the JP Bayly Trust was $3000 in 1972. This has grown to over $24,000 per month today.

In about 1991 the Trustees resolved, that the Trust should be managed so as to produce the greatest possible income. That income, save for a prudent provision for inflation, would be used for Trust objectives.

The Trust's large landholding was in the rural areas and providing poor returns. This was further compounded by substantial rent arrears on the part of tenants. This has led to gradual sale of the Trust's land - which cost more to administer than it earned - and the investment of the proceeds on better income-generating projects. Some of the proceeds helped establish a clinic and welfare operation in Lautoka

Meanwhile the Suva operation outgrew the original small Clinic premises. The building was sold in 1986 and larger space purchased next door.

Food shelves
Clothing Shelves
Lautoka Bayly House was built in 1987. The Welfare's first Chairman was the late Mr Raman Nair. He was succeeded by the present Chair, Mr Natwarlal Vagh. Lautoka has two doctors, a dentist, and an ophthalmologist.

Labasa Bayly House on Fiji's second island, Vanua Levu, was built by the Trust and opened its Welfare centre in September 1997. Businessman, Mr Hazim Hussain, who provided rent-free premises for many months to the Trust, became Chair and continues to head the Welfare committee.

The Trust assists in the education of children of Welfare families on its Suva, Lautoka and Labasa registers. Today, through an annual budget of $50,000, the Bayly Education Fund looks after almost 500 students.

JP Bayly donated five hundred pounds to the Suva City Council Library for the establishment of a modern reference library on tropical agriculture and stock breeding. He also loved the English language. An annual school prize carrying his name was inaugurated in recent years, with $250 awarded to the student achieving the highest marks in English in the Fiji Sixth Form Examinations.

Another beneficiary of his will is the Pearce Home for the aged in Suva. It receives an annual donation to assist it with its payment of City Rates.

The Founding Trustees were:
John Percy Bayly OBE (Chairman); George James Theodore Hansen, Rev. Dr. George Ratcliffe Hemming OF, OBE (Chairman); William Grainger Johnson MLC; and Leslie Redvers Martin.

Other Trustees over the years have been:
Donald M N McFarlane (Chairman); Ross G McDonald; Peter Smith; Laisenia Qarase; Parmesh Uma Raman CBE, QPM, FPM; Richard H Phillips (Chairman); Eric Jones; Thomas Copley; Raman Nair CBE, LVO; Nelson Delailomaloma; Gwyn Watkins; Ross G McDonald (2nd term); Tomasi Vuetilovoni; Abdul Jalal; Tamessar Bhim CBE, JP (Chairman); Layton (Tony) J Wilkinson JP; Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi; Mohammed Razak Akbar MBE, JP (Chairman); Joseph (Joe) S Singh JP; Philip G Arnfield OBE (Chairman); Thomas V Raju (Current Chairman); Malcolm J Paterson; Joel Sahai MF, JP; Albert Queet. This list does not include those who have served as attorneys for the Trustees.

Prominent Fiji personalities, including the former Prime Minister of Fiji, Hon Laisenia Qarase, have served on the Trust.