Lancaster nostalgia: Dr Walter Lyon

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The generosity of a man who was Lancaster born and bred has led to a new charity being set up.

The man behind this generous gift is Dr Walter Lyon, who was born in April 1917 and died in September 2003 aged 86.

Walter left behind a legacy of enormous benefit to people in Lancaster through his own professional career as a medical doctor and psychiatrist.

Now a charity in his name set up using funds gifted by him will continue that legacy for years to come.

Walter was the older son of the Lyon family who continue to run the shoe shop in Church Street which still bears the family name.

As a boy he was hardworking and diligent and after he left Lancaster Royal Grammar School in 1935 he went to St Bart’s Hospital where he studied to become a medical doctor.

Walter served with distinction as a medical officer in the Second World War and afterwards lived and worked in London.

However, by 1954 he was back living in Lancaster, but rather than work in a hospital he decided to pursue other childhood ambitions and purchased a farm in Quernmore, called Stanley Farm.

He farmed this land with the same diligence he brought to other areas of his life for the next 10 years but then in 1964 he started work at the Moor Hospital.

It was whilst working and training as a psychiatrist that he developed an interest in substance misuse and its devastating consequences.

In the late 1960s Walter spent time in the United States of America where he worked in a hospital which treated those suffering from substance dependency.

Whilst in New York, he observed the setting up of therapeutic communities for substance misuse and upon his return to Lancaster he decided to apply the methods he had observed in the United States for the benefit of Lancastrians.

Walter set up the Lancaster based drug rehabilitation charity, Inward House, which continues to this day.

At the end of his life, Walter set up “The Banks Lyon Memorial Trust” and upon his death in 2003 he gave Stanley Farm at Quernmore to the trustees for the benefit of the trust.

Stanley Farm was sold in 2012 and the trustees have invested the proceeds of sale.

Out of the income arising from the investments, the trustees wish to make grants in accordance with Walter’s wishes to benefit the district of Lancaster and in particular young people in connection with their education.

Walter himself made it known that his wish was that “education” be understood in its broader sense, in particular (but not restricted to) trades education rather than a traditional academic education.

Walter had a belief that it was vital for young people to have a particular trade or vocation and therefore the trustees would like to support young people embarking on careers of a less academic bent.

The trustees of The Banks Lyon Memorial Trust are Walter’s nephew, Jonathan Banks Lyon, along with Keith Sagar and David Sykes.

Last year the trustees asked Gary Rycroft, partner at Joseph A Jones & Co Solicitors in Lancaster, to register The Banks Lyon Memorial Trust at the Charity Commission as a charity.

This has recently been done and the trustees have asked Gary to continue to administer the charity on their behalf.

Any individual person or organisation wishing to apply for a grant from the charity should get in touch with Gary either by telephoning his office on 01524 63371 or by emailing

The trustees anticipate making grants of between £100.00 and £10,000.00 but applications for any amount will be considered.