News

Travers Reid Hon FRCSLT

Co-founder and Life President of Action for Stammering Children
 
We were deeply sorry to hear of the death of Travers Reid on 13th October 2019 aged 89. Travers held a very special place in the heart of the Michael Palin Centre and he will be greatly missed.
 
Travers was a true gentleman whose ambition and achievements have changed the lives of many thousands of children and families. First and foremost he was a devoted family man, married to Sandra for 60 years and intensely proud of his children and grandchildren.
 
More than 30 years ago, as a successful businessman, Travers had a vision of a world without stammering. Having been affected by stammering throughout his life, he was determined to help children and young people gain access to the help that was not available to him during his childhood.
 
During the 1980s, in collaboration with Lena Rustin, a pioneering Speech and Language Therapist and stammering expert, Travers decided to set up a charity to fulfill his dream of providing specialist help to children and their families. He recalled that it took several meetings with the Charity Commission to persuade them that stammering was a worthy cause. His persistence paid off and in 1989, The Association of Research into Stammering in Childhood was launched and work was started to raise money to provide information videos, to raise awareness and to develop therapy programmes.
 
A unique partnership was established between the charity and the NHS which still operates today. By 1991, Travers had made contact with Michael Palin who gave his enthusiastic support to the opening of The Michael Palin Centre for Stammering Children in 1993. The Centre is now recognised nationally and internationally as a centre of excellence in this field, offering assessments and therapy as well as training and research.
 
Travers visited the Michael Palin Centre regularly, eager to meet the children, young people and their families, listening to their stories and sharing his own experiences. He was a wonderful role model of how stammering need not hold an individual back, how personal and professional potential can still be realised and how you can crack a good joke with or without a stammer. Travers was also a great support to the team of therapists, showing a keen interest in the therapy, the teaching and the research programme. He recognized the importance of evidence based practice and founded the annual Travers Reid Award to encourage and celebrate research studies into stammering conducted by student speech and language therapists. In October 2015 Travers was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists in recognition of his services to stammering.
 
Without Travers Reid’s vision, commitment and determination, many thousands of children would not have received this specialist support and many hundreds of therapists across the world would not be trained. His contribution to the world of stammering has been exceptional and will always be remembered and celebrated.
 
Travers’s role as Life President afforded him some interesting opportunities – meeting HRH Prince Charles at Clarence House, two receptions at 10 Downing Street, regular attendances at the House of Commons, and most recently in June this year when, despite poor health, his determination ensured he would not miss the 30th Anniversary celebration of his beloved charity, Action for Stammering Children.
 
Travers will be remembered for his charm, thoughtfulness, his extraordinary memory, wide knowledge, compassion and his mischievous sense of humour. Despite health worries over several years, his indomitably independent spirit was legendary. His increased physical frailty belied his lively intellect, and quick wit. The Michael Palin Centre will continue as his lasting legacy and as an achievement of which he was justly proud.

Social Media

MPC now has TwitterFacebook and  Instagram accounts. We are posting something every day for the month of October to raise awareness of stammering, in anticipation of International Stammering Awareness Day on the 22nd of October.  We encourage you to follow us to keep up to date with all the extra information we will be publishing, including up to date research findings, ‘top-tips’ for supporting children who stammer, training opportunities etc. Please follow, like and share!

International Stuttering Awareness

Intensive Course for Young People who Stammer – Summer 2019

We are accepting referrals for young people aged 15 to 18 years to our intensive group therapy programme which starts with a two-week group therapy course 15th to 26th July 2019. If you would like to refer yourself or someone you know, please use our online referral form. To find out more about the therapy, please click here to read more and watch a short video.

Intensive Courses for Children aged 10-14 who stammer and their parents – October 2018 or April 2019

We are accepting referrals for children aged 10 to 14 years and their parents to our intensive group therapy programme which starts with a two-week group therapy course 15th to 26th October 2018 or 1st to 12th April 2019. If you would like to refer your child or someone you know, please use our online referral form. To find out more about the therapy, please read more and watch a short video.

Diana Moir/Goodwin

The Michael Palin Centre is very sad to announce the untimely death of our wonderful friend and colleague Diana Moir/Goodwin.
 
Diana was a speech and language therapist (SLT) who worked with stroke and cancer patients. She became a clinical manager of SLT hospital services and then the whole service manager for Bloomsbury, Hampstead and Islington. Overseeing and continuing to develop an excellent cross-borough service, Diana was loved and respected by her patients, her staff, her colleagues and her managers. She maintained and demanded the highest standards and did so with great compassion and a wonderful sense of fun.
 
For many years, Diana’s office was within the Michael Palin Centre and as our manager she showed a great interest and commitment to ensuring the development of our services for children and young people who stammer and their families. When Diana retired she agreed to serve on the board of Action for Stammering Children, the charity that supports the work of the Michael Palin Centre. As a trustee she worked tirelessly and with her usual energy and attention to detail to support the charity and thereby the children who stammer.
 
We will remember Diana for her warmth and great sense of mischief, for her care for her staff and their wellbeing, for her hard work and high standards that kept us all on our toes and for her integrity and authenticity as a person, a therapist, a manager, a colleague and a friend.

Intensive Course for Young People who Stammer – Summer 2018

We are accepting referrals for young people aged 15 to 18 years to our intensive group therapy programme which starts with a two-week group therapy course 16th to 27th July 2018. If you would like to refer yourself or someone you know, please use our online referral form. To find out more about the therapy, please click here to read more and watch a short video.

Some Thoughts on 'School for Stammerers'

School for Stammerers is a powerful and moving portrayal of six people’s experience of their stammering. For those six individuals, having a stammer limited their lives, prevented them from showing what they were capable of. We hear the same story from many of the children, young people and adults we work with at the Michael Palin Centre. They don’t put their hand up even when they know the answer, they don’t crack a joke in case they get stuck on the punch line, they don’t try for a part in the school play even though they’re good at drama, they avoid foreign language options because of the oral assessments, they consider career choices which don’t involve telephone or worse still presentations at meetings.
 
But the good news is - it doesn’t have to be that way: stammering need not be the life-limiter, the problem that holds someone back. People who stammer can have the same life experiences and opportunities as people who don’t. The ‘problem’ lies not in how fluently someone can express themselves, but how confidently they can do so. A confident communicator may stammer and still get their message across successfully.
 
School for Stammerers focuses on using a breathing technique to give people that confidence. The coaches on the programme are great models of using the breathing technique and it has clearly helped them gain the control and thereby the confidence to say what they want to say. But as one coach said, some people leave the programme as they find it too hard. It requires dedicated practice, determination and a resilience to bounce back from moments when things don’t go so well.
 
Self-confidence need not be conditional upon fluent speech. King George VI stammered through his public speeches and his message was just as powerful. There are people who stammer who are lawyers, lecturers, doctors, air traffic controllers. They didn’t need to ‘overcome’ or ‘beat’ their stammer to achieve their potential.
 
If you are a person who stammers or you know someone who does, and you want to build the confidence to communicate, there are many options. Meeting other adults who stammer may help and the British Stammering Association has local groups. Speech and language therapy groups courses for adults are available at the City Lit in London. Individual therapy for adults may be available with your local NHS speech and language therapy service, either face to face or via telehealth.
 
For children who stammer - contact your local speech and language service or, thanks to the support of Action for Stammering Children, the Michael Palin Centre can offer assessments to children and their families from anywhere in the UK, to explore how to help the child to become a confident communicator, with the support of their families, who are a part of the process.
 
Everybody deserves to be heard - let’s do everything we can to make that happen for those who stammer.

A Christmas Blog from Elaine Kelman – Head of Michael Palin Centre

Christmas – and stammering …… with just a few days to go, the excitement builds: schools are breaking up, bells are jingling and shops are heaving.
 
The MPC helpline is also busy with parents who are noticing that their children seem to be stammering more at this time of year. What can they do?
 
Let’s think about why that might be … 
  • Many children (and parents!) are exhausted by the end of term, and we know that tiredness often results in more stammering.
  • Colds, flus and sniffles are everywhere at this time of year, and parents often tell us that stammering becomes more marked when their child is unwell or run-down.
  • There’s always a lot of excitement which can also affect a child’s fluency, especially as they speed up their talking.
  • Routines tend to go out of the window during school holidays and although this may be a relief for many, this can throw some children.
So the normal things that happen at Christmas time can have an unexpected effect on children who stammer.
 
The first thing to say is that for most, this increase in stammering will be temporary and, when normal life resumes in the New Year, things are likely to settle down again.
 
But it may be helpful to remember a couple of points over the Christmas break:
  • Excitement: we don’t want to say ‘Bah Humbug’! But there’s no need to ramp up the excitement into delirium.
  • Monitor tiredness: suspending normal bedtimes may seem fun, but children do not necessarily sleep later in the morning. Overnight stays in relatives’ homes may also have an impact. Building in some early nights might help to redress the balance.
  • Routines: if your child is one who likes a routine, talk them through what is going to be happening, so they feel more in control. Christmas mealtimes may also become more ad hoc, so keep an eye on whether the children’s fuel tanks are running low. Look out too for possible effects of sugar highs!
  • In a busy, noisy environment, with emotions running high, some quiet one-to-one time might be helpful. Just five minutes away from the hustle and bustle might help to settle your child down.
There’s more advice for families on our website and you can ring our helpline on 020 3316 8100.

The team at the Michael Palin Centre wish you and your loved ones a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

MPC has a brand new website!

You are on it, so you know about this great new website and we encourage you to look around at all the extra information. We have new sections for adults and for those seeking private assessment and therapy services. Our training for professionals pages have new functions, such as online booking and payment. All our pages have been refreshed with new, updated information and video material. More is in the pipeline, especially for our research pages.
 
If you have any suggestions about what you would like us to include, please use the Contact Us page to email us with your ideas.

Action for Stammering Children’s Fundraising Initiative for the MPC Helpline raises over £31,000

Action for Stammering Children, the charity which supports the MPC, has raised over £31,000 to fund the Helpline for parents, teachers, therapists, doctors and any others who need advice about stammering. The Helpline is manned by the MPC team of specialist therapists and is an invaluable resource for worried parents, therapists needing a second opinion or anyone seeking advice or wanting to refer. This fantastic fundraising initiative was made possible by The Big Give’s Christmas Challenge, which doubles donations made in a specific time period. We are very grateful to all who supported this, especially the trustees of Action for Stammering Children, whose generosity made this possible.
 
For advice and support from the MPC Helpline, please ring 020 3316 8100.

The Stuttering Foundation’s President, Jane Fraser’s visit to MPC

We are looking forward to welcoming back to the Centre Jane Fraser, the President of the Stuttering Foundation, who have been generous supporters of the work of MPC for over ten years. Jane will be here to make a very special presentation on Wednesday – more news to follow, so watch this space!

News from the International Fluency Association

There is just one more week to send submissions to present papers at the Joint World Congress of the International Fluency Association, the International Cluttering Association and the International Stuttering Association, to be held in Hiroshima Japan in July 2018. For more information go to: www.theifa.org/index.php/callforpapers. This opportunity includes potential bursary availability for students and IFA members. The call for papers closes on 15th December, so don’t delay.

Charitably-sponsored Palin PCI courses around the UK

Thanks to Action for Stammering Children (ASC), Palin PCI training for early childhood stammering is coming to a location near you! ASC has supported this initiative for the past five years, enabling therapists to access training where they are, rather than incurring the expense of travel and accommodation. What is more, the charity provides the first 25 applicants with a free course manual, worth £42. The first course will be held at Birmingham City University on 22 & 23 March 2018. For more information and to apply click here.  More venues to be announced. If you would like to host a course in your location, please contact sarah.caughter@nhs.net or gemma.clarke2@nhs.net

Become an Accredited Palin PCI Therapist

An accreditation scheme is now available for therapists working with young children who stammer to gain the status of ‘Accredited Palin PCI Therapist’. This will represent a level of expertise in using Palin Parent Child Interaction Therapy which has been approved by the Michael Palin Centre. The process involves the two-day Palin PCI course, followed by a third day of extended skills training. The trainee then receives six hours of individual professional supervision with a specialist MPC therapist (this may be via the internet), developing a portfolio as they work with families of young children who stammer to demonstrate that they have acquired the skills to become accredited. For more information and details of our introductory offer, please click here.

MPC holidays

The Centre will be closed from the 27th to 29th December, and a telephone service is available for any urgent queries. Please call 020 3316 8100 during the holiday period for further details.
Working on it!