Here’s how Chris Roberts made a difference in 30 years as chair of a children’s hospice

After more than three decades of dedicated service at Francis House Children’s Hospice, Chris Roberts steps down from his role as Chair.

His tenure oversaw significant growth, including the development of residential properties for young people with life-limiting conditions.

A Place of Hope for Families

Francis House, established in 1990, serves as a beacon of hope for families with children facing life-limiting conditions across Greater Manchester.

It opened its doors in 1991, becoming only the fifth children’s hospice in the entire UK.

Francis House Services in Manchester

Francis House is a vital institution in Greater Manchester, offering a wide range of services to support children with life-limiting conditions and their families:

Respite Care

Families can access respite care services, providing much-needed breaks from the demands of caring for a child with complex medical needs. During their stay, children receive expert care and enjoy a welcoming and comforting environment.

End-of-Life Care

For families facing the unimaginable challenge of their child’s end-of-life journey, Francis House provides compassionate end-of-life care, ensuring that children are comfortable and surrounded by loved ones.

Family Support

The hospice offers comprehensive family support services, including counselling, sibling support, and assistance with navigating complex medical and social care systems. These services ease the burden on families and promote their overall well-being.

Bereavement Support

Francis House continues to provide support to families even after the loss of a child. Bereavement support services help families cope with grief and connect with others who have experienced similar losses.

Community Outreach

The hospice extends its care beyond its physical walls by offering outreach programs to support families in their homes. This ensures that children and families receive the care they need, regardless of their location.

A Legacy of Dedication and Compassion

In a heartfelt moment of transition, Chris Roberts, who has dedicated over 30 years of his life to Francis House Children’s Hospice, steps down from his role as Chair.

His journey with Francis House began in 1992 when he joined as a trustee, quickly becoming an integral part of the hospice’s fabric. In 2014, he assumed the position of Chair, following the retirement of Robin Wood.

A Place of Hope for Families

Francis House, established in 1990, serves as a beacon of hope for families with children facing life-limiting conditions across Greater Manchester.

It opened its doors in 1991, becoming only the fifth children’s hospice in the entire UK.

A Period of Remarkable Growth

During his nine-year tenure as Chair, Chris oversaw a period of significant growth.

Notably, he spearheaded the development of two residential properties, providing permanent residence for young people battling life-limiting or life-threatening conditions.

Ground-Breaking Projects Transform Lives

The groundbreaking projects in Didsbury and Heaton Moor, operated by Francis House Families Ltd, have created a nurturing environment for a dozen young people, offering comfort and unwavering support.

Passing the Torch

On October 5, Chris Roberts gracefully stepped down as Chair during a trustee meeting. \Jane Kempler was voted in as the new Chair, poised to carry on the legacy of dedication and compassion.

Answering the Call

Chris’s journey began when he answered a call for volunteers from Father Thomas Mulheran, who was seeking an accountant to join the Trustees at Francis House.

As a chartered accountant in the early 1990s, Chris couldn’t resist the opportunity and has served on the main trustee body and the finance subcommittee ever since.

A Heartfelt Reflection

As a chartered accountant in the early 1990s, Chris was visiting Wardley Hall, the Bishop of Salford’s residence and the finance office for the Diocese of Salford, when Father Thomas Mulheran, told him that the Bishop was looking for an accountant to join the Trustees at Francis House and was requesting volunteers.

Unable to refuse, Chris has served on the main trustee body and the finance sub-committee since its inception.

“It has been an honour and a privilege to be involved at Francis House.

The devotion of the staff to the young people and their parents is inspirational, to say the least.

“My first impression of Francis House was walking into the reception to see a young girl running with a long tube attached to an oxygen tank, this being carried as fast as he could by a carer.

“This was Kirsty Howard whose spirit and enjoyment in life embodied much of what Francis House is about.

“Whilst of course there are sad moments at the hospice, it is evident from the reactions of the young people and their families and the testaments they give that it is a place they look forward to coming to and which provides a service not available elsewhere.

“When I joined the trustees, Sister Aloysius was running the hospice and Robin Wood was Chair, sister was a true force of nature to whom nothing was impossible and let little stand in her way.

“In more recent years the development of Francis Lodge and the residential accommodation has proved to be an outstanding project.

“Once more this is largely down to the vision and hard work of David Ireland and his team.

“Thank you to David, all the staff, young people and volunteers who have and continue to make Francis House a truly wonderful place. Thanks also to the other trustees who willingly give up their time and expertise in many areas to help make Francis House what it is today.

“A special thank you to Martin Lochery who is retiring with me. I am positive that Jane Kempler as the new Chair will be an asset to the hospice, the trustees and the chief executive.”

Kirsty Howard’s Legacy

Chris vividly remembers his first impression of Francis House, witnessing a young girl named Kirsty Howard.

Her spirit and joy embodied the essence of Francis House.

Despite moments of sadness, the hospice remains a place where young people and their families find solace and services unavailable elsewhere.

A Force of Nature

Chris also acknowledged the trailblazing efforts of Sister Aloysius, who ran the hospice during his early years as a trustee, and Robin Wood, who served as Chair. Their dedication left an indelible mark on Francis House.

Embracing the Future

As he passed the torch to Jane Kempler, Chris expressed his confidence in her ability to be an asset to the hospice, the trustees, and the chief executive.

The Future Awaits

Jane Kempler, who joined the board of trustees in 2020 after retiring from corporate life, brings her wealth of experience in operational management, call centres, sales, and customer service to the role of Chair.

Jane expressed her gratitude to Chris for guiding her into this role, emphasizing the vital role Francis House plays in the community, providing not only clinical care but also physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual support.

Jane Kempler joined the board of trustees in 2020 having recently retired from corporate life with experience in operational management of call centres, sales and customer service.

Jane said: “I would like to thank Chris for his many years as a trustee and Chair of the trustees and for guiding me into this role.

“Francis House plays a key part in the community on so many levels, as well as the clinical care there is the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual care that can never be underestimated.

“I am looking forward to working with the Francis House team and my fellow trustees in taking Francis House through the next phase in the history of the hospice, continuing the excellent delivery of care and working through future innovations.”

A New Chapter

David Ireland, chief executive of Francis House, expressed his appreciation for the invaluable contributions of Chris and Martin Lochery, who is retiring alongside Chris.

He acknowledged the wisdom and support they provided during his tenure.

As Francis House looks forward to its next phase with Jane as Chair, the legacy of dedication and compassion continues.

To learn more about the incredible work of Francis House, please visit their website by clicking here 


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