History of The Compassionate Friends

Our Origin

The Compassionate Friends was founded in Coventry, England by Rev. Simon Stephens OBE, RN in 1969.

Rev Stephens was the Assistant to the Chaplain in the Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital. Many children died each year in the hospital as a result of accidents and illness.

Photo of Father Stephens
Father Simon Stephens. MT
After the coinciding deaths of two young boys at the hospital, their parents met by chance and a meaningful friendship developed. In their mutual grieving, they discovered that by listening to each other, by crying together if they felt like doing so, by understanding how each felt, their grief was lessened.

They, together with other bereaved parents in Coventry asked Rev. Stephens to work with them in the establishment of an organisation which could offer understanding, friendship, support and care to other bereaved parents.

Our Growth

Developed in England, The Compassionate Friends grew throughout the United Kingdom and other countries. Their first USA Chapter was organised in 1972; in Canada in 1977.

The first Australian Chapter commenced in Melbourne in May 1978, founded by Margaret and Lindsay Harmer.

The Brisbane Compassionate Friends Bereaved Parent Support and Information Centre was opened in 1985, and at present receives some Government funding, however we rely on tax deductible donations to continue reaching out to bereaved parents.

Australia now has a large network of Chapters and bereaved families that can be contacted for support and friendship.