How we started

The beginnings of Wilmslow Wells for Africa

In 1980 Brenda Mottershead, a domestic science teacher, and her engineer husband Keith, were living in Wilmslow, Cheshire, a prosperous commuter-town 15 miles south of Manchester. Keith was offered the opportunity to spend three years working in Johannesburg, South Africa.

For Keith this was an exciting challenge and an attractive alternative to a premature enforced retirement. For Brenda it was a very reluctant acceptance and a traumatic change in her life, which led to her setting up Wilmslow Wells for Africa.

Kind friends, Barbara and Stanley Toms, who had emigrated to South Africa from Wilmslow some years earlier, helped Brenda and Keith to adjust and find a home. Through the Toms, they were also introduced to the church of St John's, Parkmore and met Len Apfel, who became the first agent for Wilmslow Wells.

Brenda wrote: 'The seeds of the enterprise Wilmslow Wells were sown in South Africa between 1980 and 1983. The soil was my unprepared mind and the innocent sowers were two people I met: a black woman Emily Maloka, aged 37 years, and a white man, Len Apfel, aged 70 years.'

Sadly, after more than a decade of helping to provide clean water to communities in Africa, Brenda Mottershead died, at the age of 73, in 1999. And Len Apfel died in 1994 at the age of 82.

Read Emily's story

Read Len's story

Brenda Mottershead

Keith Mottershead