1981 – Peter’s memories

“As Headmaster of a large Birmingham school for children with an array of disabilities, I was periodically faced with the death of a pupil, at home, in hospital and occasionally in school. 

“The year 1982 saw six such children die. Staff and pupils clearly exhibited signs of grieving and the parents, because we stressed the need for a close working relationship with them, came to us for advice and support. I felt unable to meet these situations adequately and consulted the staff of a number of adult hospices. They, however, felt unable to offer help to children and their families.

 “During that period I came across a small unit near Oxford founded by Sister Frances Dominica, which became Helen House, the first children’s hospice. Frances and her team of nuns were remarkable people and I felt that the techniques that were being developed by them were largely what we sought. 

“I reported my dilemma to the members of my school’s supporting charity ‘The Calthorpe Association for the Handicapped’. They responded immediately (1983), by setting up a steering committee charged with the task of creating a children’s hospice to serve the West Midlands area. We conducted a survey of need and found to our great concern that there were likely to be some 600 families with a severely life-limited child at any one time. “ 

The charity was registered in 1984. A successful fundraising campaign followed that allowed the hospice in Selly Oak to be built and opened in 1988.