Evening Times 12th March 2010-03-13
CASE STUDY: JIMMY DEUCHARS
Mosspark grandad Jimmy Deuchars has few fond memories when he thinks back to the fight he and his wife Margaret endured to see their grandchildren. The couple’s daughter Susan, 25, died from breast cancer in 1993 and soon after they lost touch with their son-in-law who remarried and moved to Liverpool, taking his two daughters.
“You’re devastated when you realise you’ve no rights to your grandchildren and no-one to give us advice,” says Jimmy, 65, a former taxi driver. “There wasn’t anything except lawyers, so we started a group to help others and ourselves.”
Since 2000, the couple have battled to expand the work and profile of Grandparents Apart UK, a charity which offers support to grandparents affected by separation and campaigns for legal rights. It now counsels families across the country and offers a listening ear and advice and advocates mediation services.
Jimmy added: “Mediation solved our problem, so I don’t see why it can’t solve most problems.”
Jimmy and Margaret now have regular contact with their granddaughters Joanne, 18, and Nicola, 16, who still live in Liverpool, and often make 850-mile round trips to visit them.
Jimmy, who had to give up driving because of severe arthritis, recently fought back to health from aggressive bowel cancer after an operation to remove three-quarters of his bowel – if he hadn’t, he had two years to live.
He continues to run meetings in Govan and co-wrote a book, Grandparents Speak Out For Vulnerable Children.
Much of Grandparents Apart’s work centres on lobbying for grandparents’ rights, and it was invited by the Scottish Executive to help compile a Charter For Grandchildren, recommendations to be considered by Glasgow City Council.
“When my daughter died and the children were taken away, we did what she wanted us to do, and we’ve fulfilled the need for grandparents to be in grandchildren’s lives,” said Jimmy.