Child to Child’s co-founder, Dr. Hawes, believed in children’s potential to inspire change

Child to Child is sad to announce that our co-founder, Dr. Hugh Hawes, passed away on 3rd July 2014 in London. He will be deeply missed but his legacy will live on.



Before becoming full time Director of Child to Child Hugh worked as an educationalist in various countries, among them Uganda, Great Britain, Nigeria and Indonesia. Susan Durston, one of our trustees recalls some memories of Hugh in the early days of Child to Child.

Hugh was my tutor at University of London Institute of Education in 1976/7. His creativity and groundedness came through so it wasn’t a surprise when the following year he wrote to many of his alumni (as did David Morley of the Institute of Child Health) with their idea of Child to Child and how children could improve the lives of other children largely through health activities, although this soon evolved into a broader focus on care and play, and children as change agents in their communities.

My own initiation came at the first workshop when alumni from health and education got together to brainstorm ideas. We explored which topics and what processes could be used introduce ideas, when in many societies children were to be seen and not heard? There were many eminent professionals in attendance, apart form Hugh and David, including Professor Ransome-Kuti from Nigeria (subsequently one of Nigeria’s most forward-looking Health Ministers), Professor Moos from India, Bev Young from the British Council, Audrey Aarons, The Chowdarys from Bangladesh and many others.

Activity sheets were conceived and written and the ideas began to turn into concrete actions. Many simple technologies such as ORS, conceived in David Morley’s camp, found a channel of dissemination. One of Bev’s sons even invented an origami spoon to measure the salt and sugar! What was good about this was that activity sheets with a concrete action, such as recording which children were immunized, could, in schools, turn a boring maths lesson into something active, fun and meaningful…..if only the teachers would be brave enough to try them.

Hugh’s passion and enthusiasm spread throughout the group and I remember a hive of activity as ideas were formulated and shared. At the end of two weeks there were around 20 activity sheets with ideas for more.

Hugh was ace at getting sponsors for Child to Child. One workshop was wholly sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation at Bellagio on Lake Como in Italy. That was more of a “how to” workshop, resulting in the birth of training materials, and the series on children into ..Science…maths etc..

Hugh was as at home in a rural Uganda location as at Bellagio. I remember a workshop he and his wife Colette participated in, in Western Uganda, where Child to Child was led by Violet Mugisa. His sense of fun and purpose were infectious, and his willingness to share personal anecdotes from his own life and his considerable experience was notable. Child to Child readers followed and Child to Child as an approach crept into curricula and schoolbooks.

Somewhere along this route, Child to Child was awarded the Maurice Pate Prize by UNICEF.

Hugh’s passion for this idea and his willingness and vision to grow it, persisted until the end of his life. In his last few years he was influential in brokering the “Getting Ready for School” partnership between Child to Child and UNICEF.

From from a tiny office in London this simple idea which builds on the roles children play in many societies as sibling carers has become a worldwide movement. It was not a prescriptive project with huge funds, but a visionary idea, taken up by practitioners working with children and youth around the globe and demonstrating Hugh’s vision – that children can make a difference.


Tricia Young, Child to Child’s Director, is proud to continue his incredible legacy: “Hugh was such a towering and inspirational figure, who also embodied those wonderful qualities of charm and humility – a rare combination. Perhaps my fondest memory of him will always be a presentation he gave at an introductory session to Child to Child here at the IOE when he warned participants that Child to Child may look soft and fluffy, but in fact it’s really like catching a tiger by its tail. Such a beautiful image which well captures both the work and the man himself. Although I didn’t know him well, I will miss him greatly and only hope that we can do honour to his legacy with the work we continue to do with children around the world.”

Our Programmes Manager, Christiana Brown, knew Hugh on a personal level too and is deeply saddened by his death: “Hugh was a great man yet very humble. He has been an inspiration to me throughout my career as both a promoter of and practitioner in children’s participation. He was part of the team that trained me in the Child to Child approach in Ghana as far back as 1994 and since then I have been privileged to call him and his lovely wife Colette, my friends and mentors. Hugh has done more for children worldwide than we can begin to fathom. He lived life to the fullest and we have a lot to celebrate as he made a huge impact on our world. May he rest in God’s perfect peace.”



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