Preserving 30 years of stories

Thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, during 2018 we set out on a mission to record the amazing recollections of families, staff, volunteers and supporters connected with Acorns Children’s Hospice. We also spoke to the communities Acorns serves and the local people without whose generosity and support our charity would not exist today. The stories were displayed at an exhibition to celebrate our 30th anniversary.

Our ‘Life, Loss and Other Stories’ exhibition captured memories and stories from the people who make up three decades of Acorns varied and remarkable community.

George Burns, receives sibling support at Acorns

George attends an Acorns Sibling Support group and has stayed in the hospice family flat whilst his brother Harry enjoys respite care breaks downstairs. He really enjoys all the activities at Acorns, especially going into the hydrotherapy pool with Harry for a splash session.

George has made lots of friends at the Sibling group and talks about the staff and volunteers who help make it a fun place for him to spend time. Listen to the audio to hear memories from George.

George, sibling at Acorns who has shared his story
George Burn’s Memories

Tony Williams, Acorns Maintenance Engineer

Tony’s story begins with his memories of watching Acorns hospice in Worcester being built. Reading about its progress in the local paper, he knew he wanted to work there, and in 2004 he joined the onsite team as the final building works were being completed. His memories are filled with the fun activities and days-out Acorns organises for children and families.

Listen to Tony as he describes a hospice full of life, love and laughter. Listen to the audio to hear memories from Tony.

Tony, Acorns Maintenance Engineer who has shared his memories
Tony Williams’ Memories

Diane Thomas, Acorns Family Team Worker

Diane joined Acorns in 2001 as an African-Caribbean Liaison Officer following a career as a nursery nurse. Today Diane is an Acorns Family Team Worker, working alongside families using Acorns, providing pre and post bereavement support, advocacy and coordination of services within the hospices and with other agencies. Listen to the audio to hear memories from Diane.

Diane, Acorns Family Team Worker who has shared her memories
Diane Thomas’ Memories

David Strudley, Acorns Chief Executive from 2006 to 2016

David led Acorns through the 2008 global financial crisis and was at the helm of the charity for its ground-breaking partnership with Aston Villa FC, which saw the club gift the shirt sponsor space to Acorns for the 2008-09 and 2009-10 Premier League football seasons.

Here David recalls that incredible partnership, reveals why community support is so vital for Acorns to be able to continue its work and fondly remembers the inspirational Shyam Chandegra. Listen to the audio to hear memories from David.

David, Acorns former Chief Executive who has shared his memories
David Strudley’s Memories

Emma Aspinall, Acorns Director of Care

Emma has over 30 years’ experience working in health and social care including work with elderly residential homes, fostering and adoption services and children and adults with disabilities.

Emma joined Acorns in 2003, initially as an Acorns Community Team Manager, then Head of Care at Acorns for the Three Counties in Worcester. Emma is currently Acorns Director of Care. Listen to the audio to hear memories from Emma.

Emma, Acorns Director of Care who has shared her story
Emma Aspinall

Dr Mark Hunter, Acorns Paediatric Consultant

Mark was born in North Oxfordshire and completed an MA in Medical Sciences at the University of Cambridge.

Following a number of positions as a consultant paediatrician, including a stint in New Zealand, Mark joined Acorns in 2013. Mark is a keen wildlife and landscape photographer. Listen to the audio to hear memories from Mark.

Mark, Acorns Paediatric Consultant who has shared his memories
Dr Mark Hunter’s Memories

Mark Higgitt, Deputy Editor of the Birmingham Daily News 1984-1991

As Deputy Editor of the Birmingham Daily News in the 1980s, Mark was closely involved in the plans to launch Acorns first hospice. Mark remembers how celebrities from the Birmingham music and television world, working alongside volunteers from the media industry, joined forces to create a pop video to launch an appeal to build the hospice. The Action! album was recorded by worldwide names such UB40 and the CBSO and produced by ELO’s Jeff Lynne to help raise the money needed. Listen to the audio to hear memories from Mark.

Mark, Deputy Editor of the Birmingham Daily News who has shared his memories
Mark Higgitt’s Memories

Giovanni Esposito, AKA Spoz, Poet and Acorns Volunteer

Spoz is a poet and musician who generously gives his time and talents to support Acorns as a volunteer. His memories begin 15 years ago when he first visited Acorns hospice in Selly Oak.

Spoz supports Acorns in a number of creative ways, including helping out at the annual Summer Fete and running poetry workshops for children and young people. Spoz’s poem ‘All Those Years of Acorns’ vividly describes the many aspects of hospice life at Acorns; covering everything from expert care and support, to fundraising and charity shops. Listen to the audio to hear memories from Spoz.

Spoz, Acorns volunteer who has shared his memories
Giovanni Esposito’s Memories

Sue Herlihy, Acorns Nurse

In 1988, Acorns Children’s Hospice in Selly Oak was only the third to open in the world. Sue joined the team as an agency staff nurse and recounts her memories of learning on the job, developing her care expertise and how the teams now deal with more complex medical needs as an everyday occurrence.

Sue’s memories are peppered with recollections of daily life in a children’s hospice and the children she cared for. Listen to the audio to hear memories from Sue.

Sue, Acorns Nurse who has shared her memories
Sue Herlihy’s Memories