Touching tribute as plaque unveiled at new family rooms

A touching tribute to the founding CEO of Acorns Children’s Hospice was unveiled this week – as the charity officially opened vital new family rooms so parents can stay by their children’s side 24-hours a day.

The family care suite has cost nearly £400,000 and has taken six months to complete and it has now been named the John Overton Suite.

A special plaque was unveiled in Mr Overton’s honour as a long-lasting tribute to the man who was the driving force in setting up Acorns first hospice in Birmingham to provide care for children with life limiting and life threatening conditions in the region.

Mr Overton later opened hospices in Walsall and Worcester. He has been described as a businessman with a big heart and who left a huge legacy.

The plaque was unveiled on Wednesday (17 April) by his widow Margaret Overton, and she recalled how her husband dedicated his life to making the hospice a reality and a success.

Outside the John Overton Suite.
Outside the John Overton Suite.

‘He would be honoured to be remembered in this way’

She said: “We are humbled and honoured. John would be thrilled to know that Acorns is going from strength to strength and local children are getting the care they need. It’s great to represent John on his behalf for the opening of this family care suite and this is a wonderful tribute.

“Acorns was a huge part of John’s life. He believed the whole team, from volunteers right to the top, had one mission to provide lifeline care for children and support for their families and that everyone had a role to play.”

Margaret added: “The word ‘family’ was synonymous with John. In his personal and professional life he lived the word ‘family’, and he would be honoured to be remembered in this way with the family care suite.”

Acorns founding CEO John Overton
Acorns founding CEO John Overton.

The huge project involved building an extension to the hospice, and the creation of living accommodation and bedrooms for families right next to the child’s room so they can be with them 24-hours a day.

The work was carried out by Murray & Willis Ltd after being funded by major donors, a large legacy and donations in memory, which also enabled decorating, furnishing and the creation of ‘entertainment walls’ in the units which can accommodate two separate families.

The opening was also attended by former TV newsreader Kay Alexander MBE, Steve Mcabe MP and a host of special guests.

Katie Burbridge, Director of Care for Acorns, said: “We’re thrilled to open our new family care suite and proud to dedicate it to our founding CEO John Overton. John was instrumental in establishing Acorns and in ensuring that families caring for children with life limiting and life threatening conditions get the care and support they so desperately need.

“For many families, using a hospice can feel overwhelming and whether it’s for the first time or during the most difficult times, knowing they can stay by their child’s side gives them the comfort and reassurance they need.

“We would like to give a huge thanks to Murray & Willis Ltd and everyone who has supported us and contributed to make this important project a reality.”

Acorns Children’s Hospice provides specialist palliative care for babies, children and young people with life limiting and life threatening conditions, and support for their families.

In the past year, the charity has cared for more than 750 children across the West Midlands, and supported almost 1,000 families, including those who are bereaved.

This care and support is provided from Acorns three hospices, based in Birmingham, Walsall and Worcester, and in the community.

Acorns needs around £30,000 each day to provide its children’s hospice care, with two thirds of that amount coming from generous donations and fundraising by the local community.

Find out how you can help Acorns be stronger together for local children and families by visiting

Inside the John Overton Suite.
Inside the John Overton Suite.
Inside the John Overton Suite.
Inside the John Overton Suite.