TWO staff members of the former St Edward's Hospital have celebrated 25 years of starting their own residential home.
On December 23, 1988, John and Pat Harris gave up good salaries and pensions at the Cheddleton site to start their own business with a 13 bedroom residential home.
Twenty-five years later the couple have seen the fruition of their skills and management become a group that runs the John Munroe Psychiatric Hospital in Rudyard and the Edith Shaw Hospital in Hugo Street, Leek, along with employing more than 300 people.
The group now has a further company called Ability 2 Achieve which supports people living in their own homes across Staffordshire and Cheshire.
To complete the group the family business also has its own agency which supports other residential and nursing homes with healthcare staff.
Pat said: "When we started our journey 25 years ago, it would be a fair assessment of events to say that there was a certain amount of naivety on our part.
"Both John and myself worked in the NHS at St Edward's Hospital where we gave up a good salary and pension to start a business which had a greater risk of failure, but at least we had our skills and good coping mechanisms which enabled us to manage all the ups and downs that a business brings.
"What we didn't expect was the hard work and realisation that unlike the comfort of the NHS, the buck stops with us.
"We have, however, had a dedicated team of professional staff, who with their efforts over the years has enabled our reputation in the field of mental health to grow."
Five years ago John and Pat stepped aside and the running of the businesses was taken over by their two sons, Matthew, who became managing director and Andrew, project director.
Mathew, aged 38, said: "We are a hospital for psychiatric patients which provides intensive psychiatric rehabilitation and continuing care services for individuals with severe and enduring mental health needs. Also we are a 100 per cent off-shoot from the NHS.
"After treatment many can go back into their homes, families or nursing homes.
"We encourage normalisation for our patients at the John Munroe Hospital group, which includes shopping trips, trips to the theatres and safari parks and other social events, which allows for social inclusion, as quality of life and dignity are at the centre of our philosophy of care."
"The businesses now employs more than 300 people from all over the Staffordshire Moorlands, which help the economy. We also use local contractors for many ancillary items such as building maintenance, electric work and window cleaning. All this money goes back into the local economy.
"We would like to thank all our staff both past and present as without them we could not have grown into a successful group. Also we would like to thank members of the local community for their support over the years."
He added: "This year we have set up a legal executive firm called Jackson Perry, based at Cross Street Mill in Leek.
"The service employs Julie Perry, a legal executive who qualified in 1998 and has specialised in private client work - wills, probate and court of protection - since this time.
"Julie is a member of Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE), an independent, national organisation of lawyers who are committed to providing the highest quality of legal advice for older and vulnerable people, their families and carers. If this service grows as we expect then we will be employing more staff in the future."