Man who created hospice to step down

NAWN. Archdeacon of York Richard Seed, who is retiring as chairman of trustees at Martin House Childrens Hospice. 110727AR2pic1.
NAWN. Archdeacon of York Richard Seed, who is retiring as chairman of trustees at Martin House Childrens Hospice. 110727AR2pic1.

The man who single-handedly launched the appeal that created Martin House is standing down after nearly 30 years’ involvement with the children’s hospice.

The Venerable Richard Seed, Archdeacon of York, said stepping down had been a “long and hard decision” to make.

He has combined his religious duties with acting as chairman and chaplain of the hospice since it opened in 1986.

“Martin House has been a part of my life for nearly 30 years, it has been my baby. Having seen it go from its humble beginning to now is amazing.

“However I am coming to retirement age soon and I think it is now time to pass the baton on to somebody else and let them take over.

“It has been a hard decision and I will still be involved with Martin House and keep in touch with the children, their families and of course the tremendously hard-working staff there.”

Back in 1987, when The Ven Seed launched the appeal, there was only one other children’s hospice in the country, and that was in the south.

He became involved in the idea of creating a children’s hospice in 1980 whilst serving as vicar of St Mary’s Parish Church in Boston Spa.

He said: “I had been approached by medics at the University of Leeds, who had, like me, found the world’s first children’s hospice, Helen House in Oxford, a very moving and inspiring place, and we wanted to create the northern equivalent to that.

“The setting up of Martin House was a long and tortuous journey at times, we had numerous obstacles to overcome and there was a lot of local opposition to the building of it at first.

“Then we had a number of obstacles along the way, including a fraud case, so it has not always been easy with the ever-changing nature of the hospice.

“I would like to pay a huge tribute to the people of Yorkshire, who I have noticed, seem to double their efforts when there are obstacles, and make the dream of Martin House a reality in the first place.”

The Ven Seed, 62, now lives in York where he is responsible for the smooth running of more than 200 churches and 60 staff in his role as Archdeacon of York.

He is married to Jane, a retired secondary school teacher, and they have four grown up children: Emily, Tim, Miriam and Lucy and two grandchildren, Cleo and Barney.

He said there had been many special moments with his work as chaplain at Martin House, with one of the most special being the opening of the hospice.

“The Duchess of Kent, Katharine, laid a foundation stone and I remember it being the most special day because all the effort and hard work of so many people had paid off.

“The Duchess came back a year later and made a number of private and informal visits after that. She was very involved and I must thank her.”

The Ven Seed also met Diana, Princess of Wales, when she visited children at the hospice in 1988.

He said that dealing with sick and terminally ill children was never easy.

“We have children here who suffer from very complex and complicated diseases in a lot of anguish and pain and there are moments of tremendous pain, but these are balanced by the wonderful, happy moments which have inspired me.

“The children and their families who come to the hospice have so much courage; they have been an inspiration to me throughout my time here.”

His last meeting as chairman of the board of trustees, who meet four times a year to discuss the policy and management of Martin House, was on Tuesday.

A farewell dinner was also held for him at Wood Hall in Linton.

The new chairman has been announced as fellow trustee David Johnson, former chief executive of the NHS for North and East Yorkshire, who lives in Thorp Arch.

The hospice, which is based in Clifford, relies almost entirely on donations and fundraising to raise more than £4.5m a year to provide care and support for children and young adults.

The hospice is now split into two sections, one for children, and the other for teenagers and young adults called Whitby Lodge.

The hospice has the equivalent of 60 full-time staff, which provide care for the 300 children currently looked after by Martin House.

It also supports more than 100 bereaved families.

sarah.dawson@ypn.co.uk