Thomas Weihs was a Doctor who fled Austria in the 30s after being pursued as a Jew (despite being a protestant!). In the late 30s, he moved to Scotland where he first worked alongside fellow refugee Karl Koenig and the other founders of the first Camphill school. Thomas had only just managed to escape Vienna on the last boat into Switzerland.
He was responsible for helping to farm the land on the estate and encouraged some of the residents with learning disabilities to help, which informed a Camphill tradition that has been upheld in every community. He was responsible in part for founding the Newton Dee community.
Anke Weihs was born in Australia but joined a troupe of dancers who travelled around Europe where she met Thomas Weihs and Peter Roth (another of the founders). She travelled to Scotland to meet Karl Koenig, intending to resume her career as a dancer afterwards, but then felt the “call” to remain in Camphill as it grew and developed. As somebody with a difficult childhood, Anke recognised the spirit and potential in the children and adults she worked with and brought cultural life to the community, including her love of mythology and fairytales. By all accounts, she was a very talented dancer and a wonderful lady.
Thomas and Anke married in 1951 having developed a relationship in Camphill together. They then left Newton Dee in 1957 before helping to found other communities including Templehill, Blair Drummond, Corbenic, Beannachar and Loch Arthur.
The Milton Keynes community might not have existed if it hadn’t been for Thomas Weihs. In 1977 he was giving a talk on Camphill Communities at a medical conference attended by a consultant from Aylesbury hospital. They recognised that there was a need for that kind of provision in the Home Counties – this then triggered the discussions between the Camphill Village Trust and the Milton Keynes Development Corporation to set up the community here while the City rapidly expanded. Sadly Thomas Weihs died in 1983 so didn’t get to see the new MK community flourish. However he did meet one or two of our residents – Max Barton and Mandy Killburn were both assessed by Dr Weihs as children and adolescents and advised that the MK community, with its urban setting, would be appropriate for them.
Two very fascinating people whose efforts, in part, helped bring us all together today!