Long-standing Trustee, Chair and Director of the Planned Environment Therapy Trust, John Cross, died on July 10th, 2017. To mark the day, his sister Sybil and her husband Eric, with the support of John's other sister, Cynthia (a former Trustee and Chair of Trustees who could not be here), brought flowers for the site of the commemorative camelia under which John's ashes are buried, and placed roses under John's photograph and plaque in the Trust's large meeting room.
There is more to come - keep your eyes out for a fuller report. But in the meantime, just a very quick and a very big THANKYOU! to all of the Team who joined us on Friday, June 29th, for our "What Do We Do Now?! (not the official title)" event. Inspirational, enlivening, productive. What great people we have within the PETT community!
Photograph by Doug King.
Although a member of the Team on the day, Doug King and Aggie Forster of Braziers Park are not in the photograph. He, because he was taking it; she because she had had to leave earlier. Together they complete the magnificent 24.
The Planned Environment Therapy Trust
May 1st 2018
Across the ha-ha and the barn, to the church beyond:
The beginning of the path through the wood:
The end of the path through the wood:
Is history in the beginning, the ending, or in the journey?
Following the June 29th "What Do We Do Now (not the official title!)" event - see here for more details - a PETT team consisting of Chair Rosemary Lilley, Executive Director Rich Rollinson, Transition Project Manager Fiona Talwar-Lomberg, and archivist Craig Fees travelled over to Braziers Park in Oxfordshire on Tuesday, the 3rd of July. Invited by Brazier's Aggie Forster, and meeting with Brazier's Treasurer Cliff Jordan, it was the first fruit of the June 29th meeting. In the words of Transition Project Manager Fiona, the PETT team "found an appetite to explore how we can go about working collectively to build a stronger future for all."
Braziers is a beautiful and very old house set in extensive grounds and fields, but it is far more than that. Historically and philosophically, PETT and Braziers Park are cousins, descending from shared roots in the significant social experiments of Grith Fyrd and the Q Camps Committee of the 1920s and 30s.
Q Camps grew out of Grith Fyrd (Anglo-Saxon "Peace Army"), which was a self-help and self-sufficiency, camp-based organisation. Grith Fyrd, or Grith Pioneers, was created in the years leading up to the Second World War as a practical response to the devastating impact of the Great Depression, which itself rolled out of the immense trauma of the First World War. The Q Camps organisation was created in the early 1930s to work with men who were far too damaged and disturbed for the Grith Fyrd Camps, and in its Hawkspur Camp - immortalised in PETT Founding Trustee David Wills' book, "The Hawkspur Experiment" - demonstrated a way of living and working which had a significant, recognised influence on the post-war Therapeutic Community movement. AND brought psychoanalyst and paediatrician Donald Winnicott directly into the work with residential therapeutic child care, in which his influence has been so immense (see here).
PETT is what is called a successor organisation to the Q Camps Committee - we inherited their archives and their residual funds, and all three founding Trustees were closely involved together at Hawkspur, and were members of the Q Camps Committee. Dr. Norman Glaister was also a member of the Q Camps Committee. After the War he bought Braziers Park, and in 1950 established the Braziers Park School of Integrative Social Research there. To get a sense of some of the connections and convergences with PETT, it is worth reading Brazier's information about itself (for their website as such, see here):
Braziers Park, School of Integrative Social Research (BPSISR) is a Specially Authorised Friendly Society, registered with the FCA, and Charity Commission Registered as Friends of Braziers (Charity No. 1042429). We are a community, an adult educational institution, and venue hire business that has sustainable aims for public benefit. Due to the nature of our organisation as an integrative social research institution, and our ever-changing cohort of members and residents, our aims, courses and events are constantly changing and developing. Briefly and widely, we are concerned with process – how is it we, as a society, contribute to social issues? What can we do to address this?
We are committed to being a community of diverse minds and backgrounds so that we can develop holistic and sustainable reasoning, living, and thinking to address environment, social, and personal issues that affect our society.
Above right: Braziers from the summer house
Below: The entrance hall
One of many spaces for reflective sitting, and group discussions.
Listed, and evocative of possibilities.
The milking parlour - built to be cool all year round (and it is!). One of many places Braziers' fascinating archives could perhaps be stored.
Members of the PETT team making their way back from the milking parlour to the main house, past orchard, abundant walled garden, glass houses, and fertile vegetable plots.
The dining room, where community and visitors eat together, and where much from the gardens ends up.
Through an 18th century window; an older house built around a much older core.
April 14, 2018. Toddington.
'A Celebration of John Cross and his life of service'
Some thirty people came together from as far away as Sweden and Germany, the distant coast of Kent, the bottom of Cornwall, and the far side of Norfolk to remember and celebrate the life and career of John Cross, the former Director of the Planned Environment Therapy Trust, who died in 2017.
Current Director Richard Rollinson opened the event by speaking of John's contribution to PETT and the field, and articulated with passionate care the underlying foundations for his work and the depths involved in living and working with children with deep and complex needs.
John was born in 1931, and his early life and the route by which he came into therapeutic work with children and young people, and the contributions he made though his life of service (as founding principal of New Barns, in his involvement from the earliest days of the Association of Workers for Maladjusted Children (now SEBDA), in his role as P.E.T.T. representative on the Council of Young Minds, and much more), was conveyed on video by John's sister Cynthia Cross, with additional insights from his older sister Sybil Wheeler.
John's biographer Charles Sharpe spoke of the six years of meetings and recorded interviews with John which had emerged from their meeting on the Child Care History Network's Steering Group and then Board, and what he had learned, not least about John's affinity with cats; and asked for further thoughts and memories for the book which is planned to appear in May.
Longest-standing PETT Trustee Robert Hinshelwood described his earliest meeting with John Cross and John's mentor David Wills at the Cumberland Lodge conference organised jointly by PETT and the young Association of Therapeutic Communities in 1978, and his sense of John and planned environment therapy since.
A brilliant lunch led naturally into the "rich feed" of a discussion about John Cross's time and New Barns initiated by Rich Rollinson with PETT Trustee Cate Davidson, an emotionally rich discussion involving the whole room.
Dorothy and Roland of the Cheltenham Meeting of the Society of Friends reflected on John's contribution as a Quaker and member of the Cheltenham Meeting, and having spoken of John, asked for thoughts and contributions as they prepare an entry for John for inclusion in the Yearly Meeting's 'Testimonies to the Grace of God in Lives' ("A testimony should radiate the Grace of God as shown in the life of the Friend who has passed from this world. It differs from an obituary account of achievements, yet a few milestones in the life of the deceased will serve to illuminate the spiritual gifts bestowed.").
Andy Bloor then read former SEBDA Chair Joan Pritchard's appreciation of John, and spoke of his own associations with John in SEBDA.
The day ended, as John would have wished, with much remembering and talk, and the famous PETT rich home-made cakes. Charles Sharpe promised his book would be available in May, with proceeds to help support the work of the Trust.
Sybil's open arms set the tone for a memorable day.
Rich led the lively and thoughtful day of memory and discussion.