A Shared Experience John Cross, his life, thoughts and writing

A Shared Experience John Cross, his life, thoughts and writing by Charles Sharpe is now published.

Following his National Service, John Cross was heading for a career in politics until, in the early 1950s he arrived as a summer volunteer at Bodenham Manor School, a therapeutic community  established by David Wills, which educated children who had suffered early deprivation. At once John knew that what was going on at the school was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.

In 1965, he with others of kindred spirit  founded a therapeutic community where the children and adults lived together. The community flourished until 1992 when the school closed in controversial circumstances and some members of the therapeutic team were put on trial. They were found not guilty but the pain of these events is still felt today.

John Cross knew and conferred with those who were considered pioneers of the therapeutic community movement. He eschewed the role of charismatic leader. He believed in the essential goodness of groups and teams of people. Given what the children, the adults and John achieved in their shared experience, it might be argued that the community of New Barns deserved the accolade “pioneering”.

Throughout his life John enjoyed sustenance and support from his family. He was a Quaker, a psychotherapist and served for many years as a magistrate in the youth justice system. After the closure of New Barns he became the executive of The Planned Environment Therapy Trust at The Barns Centre. John retired in 2011and still spent most of his days helping at the Trust until the his final illness. This book details the story of John’s life and records some of his thinking and his writing.

A Shared Experience John Cross, his life, thoughts and writing : by Charles Sharpe, published by Abbeyhill Press, Totnes; ISBN 978-0-9560438-1-8, 327pp £7.95.

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