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If ever a healing centre growed like Topsy, we’re it. The Centre for Complementary Care was born on a wing and a prayer in December of 1989 when we rented a beautifully restored barn deep in a secluded valley in West Cumbria. Our only office equipment was a baby stapler and an old portable typewriter. All the furnishings were second-hand and our financial security rested on the provision of a


£5,000 overdraft. We were not blue chip, but we had vision and energy and were willing to take risks in order to offer what we believed would be healing balm to many who “in this transitory life are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness or any other adversity.” Our professional discipline was to trust the Holy Spirit and to work with integrity.

Photo Copyright Jeremy PooleIt shouldn’t have worked, but it did. Every advisor we consulted warned us gravely that this was a bizarre undertaking that lacked financial viability, in a disastrous location. We had no official support, and to this day funding bodies established to meet the very needs we successfully address tend to refuse our applications with the observation that we don’t fit. On the plus side of the ledger, we had a loyal if bemused management committee who saw the Centre through three hard years before we gained charitable registration. We also had a patient and generous landlord who liked the look of us and was prepared to make a verbal rental agreement on the basis of mutual good faith. During our fourteen years at Knott End, we saw clients on a daily basis for healing by gentle touch as our main work. We also provided teaching and training days for health professionals and other groups, and offered information to people facing change and loss who needed help making critical choices. We were careful not to discriminate on the basis of religion or financial circumstances and treated all that came to us regardless of their circumstances. The Centre never received statutory funding, depending on individual donations and grants from charitable trusts to support the work.

In 1995/6, the Centre was included in outcomes research initiated by the then Director of Public Health Medicine for North Cumbria, Dr Peter Tiplady. Good results led to a further three year study into healing outcomes, a project conducted by the Centre and St Martin’s College, Lancaster and jointly funded North Cumbria Health Authority and Cumbria County Council. Papers detailing the research findings were published in medical journals in the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom.

Muncaster ChaseIn November 2003, it was time to move. Our landlords were selling Knott End and we knew better than to try to prolong the first extraordinary stage of the Centre’s life. What we didn’t know was that we would fall so perfectly on our feet at Muncaster Chase, a lovely old house only a few miles away, high on Muncaster Fell. From the day we moved in, it has felt exactly right. Everyone who comes here: clients, volunteers, staff and curious passers-by, experience the peace that envelops the house and garden. The deer, squirrels and flocks of wild birds who were in residence long before we were, seem to regard us a part of the landscape. It is a splendid place to work, to rest, to come for healing and receive it.

Photo Copyright David BriggsWe intend to be here a good while yet. The history of the Centre is only partially written. It is not a record of buildings or organisation, but the story of many very different people who came first to Knott End and now travel to Muncaster Chase, seeking healing and solace and remaining connected to the Centre in support of the work. Together we make an informal community whose main feature is the willingness of those who have been helped to respond generously with time, effort and good will in order to help others. It has been an excellent, cliff-hanging, sometimes sad and sometimes happy tale so far. We hope that you will be part of the next chapter.


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