From our regional correspondent
In Issoudun (Indre), the bust of François Mousnier sealed in front of the Honoré-de-Balzac high school is a historical symbol of generosity, well known to the local population. Since the death in 1883 of this wealthy philanthropist, who owned two farms, hundreds of acres of agricultural land and 500 hectares of forest in surrounding towns, this small town of 12,000 inhabitants shares, each year in May, the fruit of his inheritance to families of modest means.
The testamentary provisions, which the patron, without descendants, had drawn up thirty years before his death, provided that the income from his properties be distributed “among the three poor fathers of families in the city who could be considered as the most upright and the most virtuous”. Women, in particular single mothers, were in fact excluded from this bequest, considered by the inhabitants of Issoudun as a kind of “social raffle” or “Lotto for the poor”, all the more appreciable as the city counted, in 2021, 16% of inhabitants living below the poverty line.
Considering this restriction to fathers alone as “an injustice in a time that has greatly evolved”, André Laignel, who has presided over the destinies of the city of Issoudun for more than four decades, has been pleading for a long time for a revision of the will. He has just won his case before the court of Châteauroux.
This decision to open the bequest to new recipients marks, in his eyes, “a great step forward which comes to mark the end of discrimination which targeted single-parent families whose heads of families are also and above all women”. The elected socialist, full member of the jury, made up of elected officials from the Issoudun municipal council, tradesmen and farmers, expects a jump in the number of applications. He hopes that a “mixed trio, representative of society”, will be rewarded in May. “Some years, we received between 80 and 100 applications. With the crisis we are going through, it is possible that we will find these levels again, after a fairly significant drop during the Covid period. The amount allocated to the lucky winners is currently set at €11,000 each, ie a total of €33,000, with part of the income from hunting rights or leasing being devoted to maintaining this heritage.
In 2022, Alain and Alexandra, at the head of a blended family of six children and who had already applied several times, were among the lucky ones. Thanks to this boost, the couple planned to afford a family car and finance the driver’s license of the eldest of the siblings, then aged 17.
“It’s a substantial sum that helps families, sometimes confronted with the disease, to carry out very concrete projects, to help, for example, children to follow their studies or do work in their homes”, welcomes André Laignel. . First Deputy Vice-President of the Association of Mayors of France (AMF), he knows no equivalent of such a long legacy in the country.