A. was illegitimate. His mother was indifferent to him and he
lived with his grandfather and an aunt. When he was 9 years old
A. had one of his legs amputated at the thigh because of tubercular
disease of the knee joint. He made a good recovery from the operation
and was able to get about on crutches. The clergyman making the
application described the boy's relations as "rough and without moral
instincts." He felt that A. would do best away from his home
surroundings with the possibility in due course of learning a trade.
He was "bright and intelligent and good and docile." A. was selected
as a suitable case for St Martin's Home for disabled boys in Surbiton
and he was admitted on 20 March 1903. On 30 July 1907 the boy was
transferred to the Society's Training Home for Boys in Copenhagen
Street, Islington, London. He was almost 14 and it was felt that he
should be in a Home under a Master and where he would have the
opportunity of learning a trade. A report on A. from 1909 is included
in the case file and both his character and his intelligence were
marked as "very good". At this time he was taking time to learn the
tailoring trade being "slow with his needle", so it appeared that he
would not be placed in a situation for a while.
In April 1910 A. needed a new "bucket leg" and there are various items of correspondence concerning this. By late Spring 1910 A. was doing well at his tailoring work but he faced difficulties in being accepted for a situation. He was rejected for the places that he tried for solely on the grounds of his disability. Employers chose to take able-bodied boys despite A's character and work being very good. Eventually A. was sent to work with a tailor in Devon. He was discharged from the Islington Home on 8 February 1911. There is a great deal of correspondence on the file relating to the period after A. had started work in Devon. It concerns the provision of a "cork leg" which a doctor had recommended as being better for the boy's spine than the bucket leg which he was using. A. was provided with the new leg, which cost £7.10/-, through help from the Surgical Aid Society and the Devizes Poor Law Guardians (who had helped maintain A. through his years in the care of the Society). The balance remaining of £1.5/- was to be made up by A. himself in instalments from his wages. A. received the leg in June 1911 and was pleased with it. He settled well in Devon and was helped by people who took an interest in his welfare.