The Benefice of Charminster, Stinsford and the Chalk Stream Villages celebrated one of their own releasing a book over the summer. Hazel Morgan, who has worked hard in her deanery to help churches listen to those with disabilities, and include them, has written The Joy of Knowing Pete – an insight into her life and faith whilst caring for her son who had Downs Syndrome.
The short but joyous life of a boy with Down’s syndrome and profound learning disabilities is celebrated in this new book, to highlight all that he achieved. In 'The Joy of Knowing Pete: Much was said, yet no words spoken', Hazel reflects on the teenage life of her younger son and describes the challenges they faced together as a family with love, humour and gratitude.
Hazel explains why she wanted to write the book: “Back in 1990, I wrote about Pete's childhood in a book called 'Through Peter's Eyes' which was written very much from Pete's perspective. I wanted this book to show his positive influence as a young man who never used words, on those around him and to show how much joy he created in our lives”
She continues: “Of course there were times when life was challenging and difficult, but I know that when I look back, I can count the eighteen years spent with Pete among the richest of my life as we shared the enjoyment of celebrations, outings, picnics, friendships, and, above all, music… we shared love, sadness and happiness.”
Hazel describes Pete’s involvement in the life of the local village church where he sat at a table with his catalogues appreciating being part of the worship. She movingly recounts how at the age of eighteen he was confirmed by the then Bishop of Dunwich in the chapel of the Sue Ryder home where he was receiving nursing care, having had severe strokes a few months previously. The chaplain and his dad made a scrap book of pictures relating the Christian faith to prepare him for the service which was attended by thirty family and friends. His story shows how his faith was important to him and indicates the need for the church to be inclusive and welcoming, responding sensitively to each person’s needs.
Hazel subsequently became a Co-Director of the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, then part of the Mental Health Foundation. Now in retirement, she is a trustee of People First Dorset. This memoir will appeal to anyone wishing to read about the life of one young man with profound and multiple learning disabilities. Hazel also reflects on issues for people with learning disabilities today: it will be of interest to parents with sons or daughters who have learning disabilities, practitioners, students in health, education and social care, church members, researchers, and policy makers.
'The Joy of Knowing Pete: Much was said, yet no words spoken' is available in paperback from the publisher YouCaxton, independent bookshops and Amazon. It is also available on Kindle from Amazon.