We were incredibly sad to hear of the death of our Patron Doreen Massey last weekShe is a profound loss to our organisation and to the young people’s health fieldWe wanted to share some reflections from staff, patrons and trustees on the importance of her work for AYPH and her support and commitment to young people. 

I have worked with Doreen for many years but as our Patron John Coleman sets out the Association would not have existed had it not been for Doreen’s advocacy    

“She played a key role in the birth of AYPH.  In the years from 2000 onwards a group of GPs, paediatricians and psychologists, were keen to create some form of organisation which would highlight the importance of adolescent health, and encourage a greater focus on training for all within health care.   However, there were no funds for such an organisation.  Doreen came up with the idea of hosting a dinner in the House of Lords for all those in positions of influence, such as Presidents of Royal Colleges and senior Government officials. 

This dinner, in early 2007, was a great success, with everyone round the table expressing their support.  To my amazement the very next morning I received a call from a senior official in the Department of Health, indicating that they would support the creation of an organisation with a focus on adolescent health.  I was asked to put in a bid and strike while the iron was hot.  I duly submitted my bid, only to be told that I could double the sum I was asking for.  This proved the only time in my career when a funder offered a grant for twice the sum being proposed!   Later I was told that it was Doreen’s influence that had persuaded the Department to increase their offer.  And so it was that AYPH was born in early 2008. All thanks to Doreen Massey.  She will be very sorely missed.”

John Coleman, AYPH Patron 

In later years Doreen worked with AYPH staff to set up the first All Party Parliamentary Group focused specifically on young people’s healthThe APPG enabled us to facilitate discussions with peers, MPs and the broader sector about issues such as student health and wellbeing as well as trends in data on young people’s healthIn addition, she was generous in supporting receptions on key topics such as the importance of focusing on the parents of young people affected by mental health issuesSuch events helped to highlight complexity and move conversations forward – as Ann Hagell our Associate reflects. 

We are so grateful to Doreen for her passionate advocacy for young people – she was able to make things happen in a way that was quite magical, convening groups and hosting receptions, generating ideas and writing reports, bringing people together and subtly moving things on.  We will miss her enthusiasm and humour and her generosity, but she leaves an impressive legacy in the youth health sector.” 

Ann Hagell, AYPH Associate 

Finally on a personal level Doreen was amazingShe seemed to have unending energy for the many different projects she was working on – and was always telling us about her travels to the Council of Europe or one of her many other meetings and commitmentsShe was a delight to be with, personable, down-to-earth and above all completely committed to better understanding young people’s experiences and working to make services and support better for them.   We will miss her greatly and as our Chair of Trustees, Claire Bethel, reflects, we are truly grateful for all she did.  

“Doreen’s unending support and enthusiasm to improve young people’s health cannot be overstated – she recognised the significance of young people’s health and did all she could to help to raise the profile. I first came across her as Director of Policy in the Office of the Children’s Commissioner when she advocated on behalf of young people and showed strong commitment to ensuring that their rights were upheld. We strongly appreciated her unerring support for the work of AYPH and will remember her with great affection and gratitude.” 

Claire Bethel, AYPH Chair of Trustees 

Author: Emma Rigby

April 2024