Acorns History

Acorns Children’s Hospice provides babies, children and young people aged 0-18 years who have life limited or life threatening conditions and associated complex needs with a network of specialist palliative nursing care and support.

Take a tour of our history, from the foundations of the organisation in the eighties, through to our present day activities.

1983 – Peter Wildblood plants the seed of an idea for a children’s hospice in Birmingham

The late great Peter Wildblood (Headmaster of a local school for children with special educational needs) was faced with the difficulties of deaths of children at his school and instigated a steering group, chaired by Geoffrey Crofts, to investigate whether there was a need to provide respite care for children and their families in Birmingham and the surrounding area.

1984 – The decision is made to build a hospice

Children’s Hospice Trust is registered as a charity and the decision is made to build a hospice and establish a community team.

1986 – Celebrity pop video created to launch hospice appeal

Stars of the stage and screen, as well as volunteers from Central ITV, BRMB and CBSO come together to create a pop video to launch the hospice appeal, and the capital appeal to build the hospice is launched. The album “Action” is also recorded by celebrities and groups including UB40. Do you have a copy? Get in touch!

Opening of the first temporary Acorns shop in 1987

1987 – First temporary shop set up by Ann Cullinan

Ann Cullinan opens a temporary store in Cotteridge and raises £21,000 in under two months.

1988 – A competition is held to come up with our name

The Daily News appeals to readers to come up with a name for the new children’s hospice and over 60 ideas are sent to the hospice trustees. Siblings Victoria and Simon (with a little bit of help from mum and dad!) come up with the name ‘Acorns’. Their suggestion is chosen as it’s decided it fits the bill perfectly with the hospice being located on Oak Tree Lane.

14th December 1988 – Acorns in Birmingham was officially opened

Diana, Princess of Wales, officially opens Acorns in Birmingham (Selly Oak). The day was covered by the local press 

Sandra worked at the hospice at the time of Princess Diana’s visit, and remembers a hectic but ultimately special day.

See more photos from Princess Diana’s visit to the Selly Oak hospice.

Princess Diana officially opening Acorns in Birmingham in 1988

1992 – Acorns Asian Mothers Support Group set up

In what was the first of its kind in the UK, the group would meet monthly and take part in activities such as swimming, Bhangra dancing, cooking and fundraising. This was all made possible by a crèche run by volunteers.

Launch of Hereford and Worcester Support Group with a tree planting at Hartlebury Castle

1993 – Hereford and Worcester support group launched

The launch of the new support group is commemorated by a tree planting ceremony at Hartlebury Castle by the Bishop of Worcester.

1997 – Three Local Charities Lottery is established

We team up with St Mary’s hospice in Birmingham and Focus Birmingham to establish the TLC Lottery.

1999 – The BASIL magazine group is formed

The BASIL (Brothers and Sisters in League) magazine group – edited by Acorns siblings – is formed and the first issue published. Read more about the group. 

2000 – Acorns in the Black Country officially opened

Lord Lichfield officially opens Acorns in the Black Country (formerly known as Rainbow House).

30th August 2000 – Acorns first international trek to China

The trek sees 90 supporters visit the Great Wall of China. They complete an exhilarating and challenging 100km walk over 5 days and raise £300,000. 

June Sayce and John Overton at the site of Acorns for the Three Counties

2001 – The Bath Road site in Worcester gifted to Acorns

The land to build Acorns hospice in the Three Counties is gifted by the late June and Willie Sayce, who owned 3 acres of land behind their home. They are deeply touched by the work of Acorns. June Sayce shared her account of how the donation of land came to happen. 

2005 – The first children entered Acorns for the Three Counties

Our hospice for the Three Counties (Worcester) officially opens its doors for the first time. Read the news from the day. 

 2007 – Worcester Warriors unveiled their new Acorns kit

Worcester Warriors launch a brand new kit for the 07/08 season, bearing our name across the chest. Since then, the Warriors have released a number of commemorative and limited edition shirts, raising funds for Acorns.

Worcester Warriors kit launch 2007

2008 – Partnership with Aston Villa

A ground-breaking partnership sees Aston Villa Football Club gift the shirt sponsor space to Acorns for the 08/09 and 09/10 Premier League football seasons.

2009 – Hospice at Home pilot scheme is launched

Our ‘Hospice at Home’ pilot scheme is launched in the Black Country to offer care in the home. 

2011 – Acorns Young Ambassador training commenced

A brilliant group of over 16s, working and supported by our Transition and Adolescent Team, become Ambassadors for Acorns. They are playing a part, having a voice and making a contribution to a range of important issues which matter to them, making a real difference to their own lives as well as helping to improve our services and even the future of children’s paediatric palliative care and adult care services. Find out more about their inspiring achievements

19/11/2011 – Our 50th shop opens

Our 50th shop opens in Moseley and marks a golden milestone for us. We were delighted that the grand opening drew supporters and shoppers of all ages. Kay Alexander, patron and longstanding supporter, cut the ribbon to officially open the shop. Find our Moseley shop here!

Moseley shop team prepares for opening

2015 – Acorns awarded Diversity Award

Acorns Children’s Hospice is acknowledged for its work in meeting the diverse cultural and religious needs of the children and families it supports with a national award. The Diversity Champion Not for Profit Sector Award for 2015 recognises and promotes organisational excellence and achievement in diversity. It highlights those organisations who actively promote diversity in ways that benefit all employees, the organisation’s users and the wider community. 

2016 – Acorns in Birmingham rated ‘Outstanding’

Acorns in Birmingham receives an overall rating of ‘Outstanding’ after unannounced inspections by the Care Quality Commission.

Acorns hospice in Birmingham
David Beckham with Acorns Ambassador Moin

2017 – Acorns Ambassador Moin wins Pride of Britain Award

Inspirational Acorns Young Ambassador, Moin Younis wins Teenager of Courage at the Pride of Britain Awards 2017. Moin’s award win was revealed in a surprise meeting with football legend David Beckham at Wembley. Despite the immense challenges he faces every day, Moin is determined not to let things get in the way of his dreams and ambitions.

2018 – We celebrate being 30 years young

We launch our 30th year celebrations with a massive thank you to everyone who has been part of the Acorns story. Staff and volunteers write thank you letters and make films, and celebrities get on board thanking supporters.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, visits Acorns in Birmingham for our 30th anniversary

As part of our 30th celebrations, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight thanks Acorns Children’s Hospice supporters and asks them to keep up the good work.