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Francis House Chairman Retires After 22 Years

robinA lot has happened in the 22 years since Robin Wood became Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Francis House Children’s Hospice.  As Robin, now 84, retires from the chairmanship of the charity and cause that he had dedicated his life to, he recalls the moment he met a formidable force in the children’s hospice movement.

Back in 1987 there were only three children’s hospices in the UK.  Robin was the Administrator at one of them, Martin House in Wetherby, Yorkshire.  Three years later, Father Mulheran and Sister Aloysius visited Martin House as they wanted to provide respite care for sick children and their families in the North West.

“My office was near the front of Martin House and I heard this rather stentorian voice come through the door saying, “this is what we want!”.  That was the beginning of Robin’s long standing relationship with Francis House and its founder Sister Aloysius.  Her drive and determination saw the opening of the children’s hospice only eighteen months later in November 1991.  “The speed with which Sister Aloysius got the thing off the ground was amazing”, said Robin.  “Sister then asked me to be Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and you did what Sister required.  However it struck me when I said I’d do it, that Francis House was open, they had a Trustee body so they must have had a Chairman, so who was I replacing?”  “You don’t need to know that”, said Sister, but I insisted.  “Well if you must know it’s Bishop Patrick Kelly”.  “So does he know? I asked her, and you know what she said, “he will”, laughs Robin.

Robin chaired his first meeting on February 22nd 1992 welcoming a new member to the Board of Trustees, Chris Roberts.  By coincidence in his final act as Chairman Robin handed the chair to Chris through a unanimous vote by the Trustees.

1990Born September 1929, a former Chief Executive of the Wool, Jute and Flax Training Board and Chairman of Leeds West District Health Authority, Robin was awarded the CBE in January 1985 for services to the NHS.  Revd David Ireland, Chief Executive of Francis House said, “Robin has been an amazing Chairman and since the Trust began to meet as an independent trust he’s the only chair we’ve had.  But his knowledge from previous roles has been invaluable making Francis House what it is today.”

In May this year Francis House doubled its size with the opening of an extension of a further seven bedrooms for teenagers and young adults.  Equipped with a recording studio, PS4s and television lounge the new building provides a place of friendship, fun and relations whilst all care needs are met.