LEE RIGBY’S mum says she has been forced out of the retreat she set up in the name of her murdered son.
Lyn Rigby, 52, had been helping bereaved families of British servicemen after being gifted a home and foundation HQ on the estate of former wrestling star Kendo Nagasaki.
But this week Kendo — real name Peter Thornley, 77 — told Lyn she must either “buy it, rent it, or lose it” because he is facing financial problems.
The heartbroken mum and the Lee Rigby Foundation have not got the money to buy or rent the property.
It means Lyn, her husband Ian, 60, and their daughters Courtney, 17, and Amy, 14, are now desperately trying to find somewhere else to live and restart the retreat.
The blow comes three weeks before the sixth anniversary of Fusilier Lee’s shocking murder by killers Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale as he walked to his Army barracks in Woolwich, South East London.
Lyn told The Sun on Sunday: “We are devastated and shocked. We were promised the use of Lee Rigby House for ever and promised a home for life. Everything has been ripped away from us.
“Now we must start over and we are looking at somehow buying a caravan so we can continue with the retreat.
It couldn’t have come at a worse time for us as we face the anniversary of Lee’s murder.
“I am heartbroken and in despair.
“When Peter first offered us the retreat and a home, I had an uneasy feeling in my tummy because it seemed too good to be true.
“It turned out my instinct was right.
“We are back to square one. We should have stayed put. We have now been backed into a corner and have no option but to leave.”
Kendo” once commanded up to 14million TV viewers and was the baddie of Saturday afternoon television wrestling, up against rivals including Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks.
In later life he became a Buddhist and ran zen retreats at his country estate in Oakamoor, Staffs.
He befriended Lyn and family following 25-year-old Lee’s murder on 22 May, 2013 and gaved them the chance to move the Lee Rigby Foundation HQ to the estate and open Lee Rigby House.
The Rigbys left their home in Middleton, Gtr Manchester, two years ago to set up the retreat.
It provides counselling and support for struggling veterans and grieving families.
They went on to welcome survivors and families hit by domestic terrorism and they provided support following the 2017 Manchester bombing.
But then Mr Thornley told Lyn he may have to sell off some of his assets, including Lee Rigby House.
He insists he never foresaw the financial problems he now faces and has offered Lyn the chance to buy the property from him or rent it — options beyond her charity’s means.
Lyn said: “This is not what we were promised.
“We are a small charity that is still growing and we just don’t have the money to afford to pay for Lee Rigby House which had been offered free to us indefinitely until the foundation could support itself.
“If I had known it would end like this, I would never have come here.
“We left the house that had been Lee’s childhood home and all our precious memories there. Now it’s all come to a horrible end. It’s a dreadful situation and impossible for us to remain living here under the circumstances.
“We need to find a new home and restart the retreat elsewhere.
“The stress has been horrendous. I feel like I’m going to have a breakdown all over again.”
Lee Rigby House was refurbished with the help of volunteers, donations and The Kendo Nagasaki Foundation — an organisation set up by the wrestler — and opened its doors in October 2017.
At one point, an army of volunteer tradesmen from around the country travelled to the retreat every weekend for several months to ensure the house opened in time.
Lyn had hoped to expand the charity with a second retreat on the estate after receiving planning permission.
Now she must walk away from that, too. She said: “I am devastated for all those volunteers who transformed Lee Rigby House and donated money to help set it up.
“We were all so proud when we threw open the doors for the first time and saw people coming in for help.
“I don’t know all the details of Peter’s financial situation — only that he has told me Lee Rigby House may have to be sold.
When I moved here, I felt peace for the first time since Lee was killed.”
Lyn said families are “booked into the house right through the summer” and she is “desperate not to cancel them”.
She added: “It’s all incredibly sad.
The retreat has been so vital in helping those who feel they have reached the end of the line and can’t face life any more. “When guests arrived, you could literally see their faces change as they walked through the doors.
“It was as if they had left their pain and suffering outside.
“Others burst into tears at feeling safe and protected away from the harsh realities of their lives.
“The retreat has also kept me going these last few years.
“It brought me back from the edge of suicide knowing I was keeping Lee’s memory alive and doing something special in his honour.”
Lyn has managed to move the HQ for the Lee Rigby Foundation to new offices under the wing of the local council in nearby Cheadle.
Now she needs to find a home in the area because her children are settled in local schools and colleges.
Daughter Courtney, who worked tirelessly at the house helping people who have lost siblings like herself, said: “It is part of who we are as a family now.
“It’s in our blood and it’s our way of keeping Lee’s memory alive by doing great work in his honour.
“No one is going to take that away from us.”
Lyn has set up a special charity page — gofundme.com/ theleerigbyfoundation — and hopes the public will support her so she can buy a caravan to use as the new base for Lee Rigby House.
Lyn said: “I had nowhere to turn to in my darkest hour and I am determined to ensure Lee Rigby House continues to offer a lifeline to those at breaking point.
“It is what Lee would have wanted.”
Last night a spokesman said Mr Thornley and The Kendo Nagasaki Foundation are fighting to save Lee Rigby House but confirmed a new rent had been put on the property and a “legal dispute” means they may have to sell.
The spokesman added: “Mr Thornley continues to fight for the cause to prevent Lee Rigby House being sold.
“While this fight continues, the Lee Rigby Foundation is free to continue to use the property as it sees fit.
Mr Thornley hopes that he will be successful in saving Lee Rigby House and further hopes that he can continue to support the Lee Rigby Foundation going forward.
“No one is being forced out of either Lee Rigby House or the residential accommodation by Mr Thornley.
“However, should Mr Thornley be unsuccessful then it is of course possible that the Lee Rigby Foundation could be forced out by others at some point in the future.”