We'll Never Forget Our Roots
Some years ago there was a nun called Sister Gabriel who came from a teaching order of nuns who had a school in Blackburn. She was the head teacher of Heathfield primary school. One of her pupils was in Blackburn Royal Infirmary’s children’s ward having her tonsils out. Sister Gabriel went to visit her and whilst there she noticed a young boy called Alex aged 11.
He was recovering from a brain tumour operation which had left him with physical disabilities. Alex had to stay in hospital because there was nowhere else for him to go. His mother was terminally ill and he had two younger sisters so his father could not manage him at home. Sister Gabriel befriended him.
Alex was transferred to the Orchid ward in Brockhall hospital in Langho. Sister Gabriel with the help of volunteers visited him every weekend, taking him out on trips and visits. She fought for a long time to try and get Alex out of the hospital as she didn’t think it was right for him. She decided that when she retired she would try and raise funds to open a purpose built home for the young physically disabled.
The Perfect Location
She wrote to Desmond Wilcox(who was at the time in charge of charity appeals at the BBC). She was invited to appear on television to tell the story of Alex and what she intended to do. The money came rolling in and she was able to start a search for a property or site to start the Alex Home. Eventually she found the right location in Accrington.
The home was built on the site where Rough Lee maternity hospital had been. The first stone was laid by Lady Clitheroe in November 1982. The building as a home was opened in January 1984 but sadly Alex was not able to move in as he passed away just aged 14. The home was named Rough Lee Home and the charity was called The Alex group after the dearly loved Alex.
In 1984 the first resident to move in was called Jennifer Glendinning and over the next 12 months 2 more girls called Liz and Rosie and a boy called Duncan moved in. Rosie and Duncan still live here today but the other two ladies have sadly passed away.
A Little Boy Named Alex
The Alex group is now run by a committee who meet at the home regularly with the Registered Manager Andrea Buckley and her deputy Wendy Hargreaves. Both the managers have experience on a personal level of dealing with family members with disabilities. Andrea has her registered manager’s award and NVQ 4 in Health and social care and Wendy has a social work degree and holds an NVQ5 in leadership and management. Both have experience of working in the care sector for over 18 years.
We have a wonderful team of staff, many have worked here for over 10 years and our maintenance man Sean Walsh has worked here for over 30 years.The majority of staff hold NVQ's at level 2 and 3, the home's chef Sara Dowling holds a hospitality award.The home feels like a home and is fun, bright and happy. The home has been open for 32 years, we had a fantastic celebration on the homes 30th year in 2014. We also ensure that we don’t forget our roots and always remember that we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Sister Gabriel and the little boy named ALEX .