Our History
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In 1954, in an unassuming building on Rodwell Road in Fiji’s capital, Suva, the Bayly Clinic opened for business six days a week. The people filled the waiting room and doctors treated patients virtually non-stop. The standard charge for a consultation, at that time, was two shillings. That fee was waived in cases where there was a genuine need and this practice continues till today.

Along the passage, 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 less fortunate.

John Percy Bayly
John Percy Bayly

This is part of the legacy of John Percy Bayly and the late Dr. George Hemming who managed the Bayly Clinic from its opening in 1954, until his retirement to New Zealand in 1982.

The late Dr Hemming believed that 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 Clinic.

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

In 1954, nine years before his death at the age of 81, John Bayly established the JP Bayly Trust. It was after the creation of the Trust, that land was purchased and the building for the Clinic was financed.
 

 

Dr. Hemming and John Percy Bayly shared a common concern for the increasing numbers of poor and the less fortunate. In the first few months of its operation, more than 80 people a day visited the Clinic in Suva. Almost all of these patients qualified for the concessional rates by virtue of earning less than four pounds a week. Today, the Trust assists in excess of 800 families through its Clinic, Welfare and Education areas throughout the three centres located in Suva, Lautoka and Labasa.

Volunteers Ananya and Shanta distributing monthly rations

Volunteers Ananya and Shanta distributing monthly ration

 

Three mornings a week, volunteers staff the Social Welfare sections at all three centres. In the early days, the volunteers were  women from the Anglican Society of St. Francis and St. Claire and today volunteers (both local and expatriate) continue to devote their invaluable time to help package and dispense food parcels, clothing, and other goods.

As the number of the less fortunate receiving charity continued to grow, operations of the Welfare section developed separately from that of the Clinic. Mary Chadwick, Shirley Hemming, and Sheila Jones were some of the Trust’s earliest Almoner’s. Much of the Welfare work has now become the responsibility of full-time Almoners.

The Trust's large parcels of landholding was mainly in the rural areas (Sigatoka, Tova & Pacific Harbour) which provided poor returns.

 

This was further compounded by the ongoing rental arrears from ‘sitting tenants’ and the huge administrative costs involved and managing these properties.  The Trustees of the JP Bayly Trust, in year 2000, decided that the land be disposed of, and the income be invested into higher income generating areas with minimal administrative costs. 

This has led to the gradual sale of the Trust's land.  Proceeds from the sale of some of the land, helped establish a Clinic and Welfare operation in Lautoka and a Clinic in Labasa.

Meanwhile the Suva operations continued to grow, and was soon looking for larger premises in which to operate out of.  The building was sold in 1986 and a larger site purchased next door.

Lautoka Bayly House was built in 1987. The Welfare’s first Chairman was the late Mr. Raman Nair. He was succeeded by the late Mr. Natwarlal Vagh who served as Chair for the last 21 years. Mr. Vagh passed away this March 2009.

Labasa Bayly House, located in Vanua Levu, was built in September 1997. Businessman, Mr Hazeem Hussain, who provided rent-free premises for many months to the Trust, became Chair and continues to head the Welfare committee.