Glenys' 30th birthday reflection
Hello, I’m Glenys, and as well as being the Family Support Coordinator here at Cerebral Palsy Cymru, I am one of the founding parents who joined together to open a children’s centre called Bobath Cymru in 1992. Why did we do this? I’ll tell you …
The group of founding parents came together with the dream of opening a children's centre as we wanted our children, who had cerebral palsy, to have access to specialist therapy that at the time was not available in Wales. Many of us had to travel to and stay in London for two-week periods if we wanted to access these services, which was often difficult and expensive. We also felt there would be enough children living in Wales who had cerebral palsy to have our own national centre.
The idea for this children’s centre came from a conversation I had with Paul Lubas, a fellow friend and parent, over a BBQ in my back garden in 1989. As the idea formed into a plan, although still very much a dream at that point, we were joined by several other couples, and over the course of the next few months, we held talks with the trustees from the Bobath Centre in London who gave us the approval to proceed with our aspirations of founding a Bobath Centre here in Wales.
After having discussions with the Local Health Boards regarding suitable premises for our children’s centre, we set up a regional fundraising group and in 1990 we launched the charity and shared the news about what we were fundraising for as widely as possible in the hope to raise enough funds to purchase and renovate a building. Initially, this fundraising group brought together 45 families who helped us take things forward. I remember everyone being fired up and feeling positive that we could achieve our goal, although a lot of people said we would never do it!
During the first year of fundraising, we were offered the residential premises at Park Road for a peppercorn rent of £30 for 3 years. Not wanting for this opportunity to pass us by, I paid this myself to secure the deal.
As a group, we then started the huge challenge of renovating the house into a therapy centre! We worked evenings and weekends and I remember our children playing in the garden of the house on Park Road while we were transforming it into a children’s centre.
Eventually, we got to a stage when some heavy work was needed and realised it was now a task that was beyond our capabilities, so we recruited help from Cardiff prison who loaned us some of the men who were near their date of release from prison to do a lot of the heavy work.
Many, many companies gave us gifts in kind including building materials, soft furnishings, garden landscaping, therapy equipment etc. and many others fundraised to help us. The biggest achievement that secured our opening was receiving a grant from BBC Children in Need for approximately £285K over 3 years. This funding enabled us to employ the staff we needed, and this was at the time, and remained for some time, the largest grant given in Wales.
When the therapy centre first opened in 1992, we employed 4 therapists (2 Physiotherapists, 1 Occupational Therapist and 1 Speech and Language Therapist) and 2 admin staff. The first appointments were offered to the 45 children who joined us on a journey that would change my life forever.
Celebrating the charity’s 30th birthday.
Never in my wildest dreams did I really believe we would achieve what we have by opening our very own specialist children’s centre here in Cardiff.
My initial drive was to get the best possible therapy for my son, Thomas, and Paul’s daughter Claire, but I quickly realised we had set ourselves a goal that would help so many more children than just Thomas and Claire.
The journey has often been a bumpy one with the need to secure funding always being our biggest challenge – unfortunately, these things never change and this remains the same challenge that we as a charity face today. Seeing how the charity has grown and become well established within the wider community of people in Wales has been amazing. I have remained involved with the charity since day 1 in many roles, including as a trustee and for the last 22 years as a member of staff. I have had the privilege of working with some of the most amazing colleagues who are all so committed to the children and have driven the service forward.
Many of our therapists who work at the centre have come from all over the world and I’ve learnt so much from each of them. I feel very privileged to have met and worked with hundreds and hundreds of children and their families, all of whom have enriched my life and I remember them with great fondness. Many of the children who have accessed our services have gone on to further education, independent living, got jobs, got married, and had babies. Other just need our love and care, some we have lost along the way, but they have not been forgotten and all have touched my heart.
I do feel like a granny at times these days when I see how some of the children have grown up and I hear about what they have achieved, but it is wonderful, and I hope I have helped them in some way.
Since the launch of our early intervention service, Better Start, Better Future in 2015, I have been very involved with all the babies who attend the centre and again I hope it has helped those families to have the support and therapy available to them so much earlier than when my son Thomas was a baby. I think that is one of the biggest and most positive changes that I have seen over the past 30 years. In the past, too often children weren’t getting referred for therapy until around the age of 18-24months, now we are working with babies as young as 2 or 3 months through our early intervention service. This is so beneficial for the baby, but also for the parents to get good therapy, information and support. That was what I wanted and needed as a young mother, and I’m so glad we can in part offer that to the families who are now referred to our services.
The charity has been my second family for over 30 years now and it means so much to me and all my family who have supported the charity all these years. My children have grown up with Bobath Wales (now Cerebral Palsy Cymru) and I am so proud of all that Thomas has achieved while benefitting from the therapy at our centre. I can’t really believe that 30 years have passed, but I feel proud that we are achieving such a huge milestone anniversary this year, and even more so after the impact of the pandemic during the last two years, when the charity was under such huge financial strain.
I am really looking forward to celebrating our 30th birthday in many different ways with our families and supporters this year. One way you can support us would be to make a £30 donation towards our 30th Birthday appeal. Every donation will take us a step closer to reaching our £30,000 target, which will help us ensure that every baby that is referred to our services this year gets the best possible start in life and their family receives the support they need.
Make a donation to support our work
If you are feeling inspired by Glenys' story and want to make a gift to support our vital work, please visit our 'Donate to help' page
Find out more about our early intervention service
Better Start, Better Future is our early intervention programme for babies in Wales who are at risk of/ or who have cerebral palsy. Find out more about how your donations will help make a difference for every little life.
Set up a regular gift
Making a regular gift will help us to plan for the future because we will know that, day in day out, we will have a steady income stream that we can rely upon. Join our family and help ensure that every child referred to us this year gets the best possible start in life.
How we have helped in Wales
Family support appointments took place in 2022-2023
Children from across Wales have been treated during 2022-2023
The number of sessions of specialist therapy we delivered in 2022-2023
After our first therapy session, I left Cerebral Palsy Cymru’s children’s centre with something nobody had previously dared give me for my little boy. I left with hope.
- Leah, Noah's mum
We left that initial therapy session on an absolute high and haven’t looked back since!
- Alison, Ben's mum
Hi, my name is Charlotte and I have just turned 15. I have recently taken part in Cerebral Palsy Cymru's 'Independent Living Skills Programme' and I would love to share my experience of the project with you.
- Independent Living Skills 2021
From that day we feel we have been part of the Cerebral Palsy Cymru family, and we have not looked back.
- Family story
Therapy and support for children and their families
Cerebral Palsy Cymru is a registered charity in England and Wales 1010183. A company limited by guarantee. Registered company in England and Wales 02691690. Registered address: Cerebral Palsy Cymru, 1 The Courtyard, 73 Ty Glas Avenue, Llanishen, Cardiff, CF14 5DX.