This striking and joyful photograph is of Mr and Mrs Fisher who moved to 81 Tressillian Road in the late sixties. Mrs Fisher worked at Unilever full-time; in the early days of the Brockley Society she helped to set up the Newsletter. Their lovingly-tended rose bushes and Victorian-style borders regularly won local gardening competitions.
Sydney Fisher was a pharmacist by profession who took early retirement on health grounds. He was a remarkable man with a huge generosity of spirit and deep understanding of life who devoted his later years to facilitating and catalysing others’ journeys through their own lives. Syd established a practical philosophy group in the tradition of G I Gurdjieff. I was one of four students at the British School of Osteopathy who each valued the teachings as part of their ‘inner work’.
Peg sadly lost Syd in 1990 and the role of teacher passed to her. We graduated the next year and accepted Peg’s invitation to work together in the house in return for a ‘peppercorn’ rent. We operated out of a single room on the first floor, treating one day a week each. Peg would often let the patients in and chat with them before making their way upstairs, taking a seat on the landing outside the treatment room.
The osteopathic practice grew steadily in size and reputation over three years. Ahead of her death in 1997, Mrs Fisher bequeathed the house to the remaining two clinic owners with a desire that it continue to grow and develop into a complementary health centre. In this way, Sydney Fisher’s life’s work could find expression through the opportunity offered in the clinic for true health and wellbeing.
A necessarily lengthy process of site investigations then took place before the building could undergo six months of mammoth subsidence works. The building was taken back to its skeletal structure, brickwork stitched, walls propped, polystyrene ceiling tiles scraped. At this pivotal moment the whole project fell into my lap and the Sunflower Centre hatched. The launch party attracted many neighbours, patients and other curious locals who’d witnessed the transformation from the outside. It was a wonderful step into the new – all the while supported by this incredible legacy from Peg.
Since then we have seen many amazing therapists and teachers flow through the practice. A handful have stayed to the present day, bringing a sense of a core group, particularly in the osteopathic team. Along with my wise and steady joint practice managers, Jen O’Connell and Johanna Benseler, the Sunflower Centre has continued to grow as a tremendous resource to local people and the wider community. We are looking forward to several new and highly skilled practitioners joining the team in September this year and seeing the centre move into a new phase of growth.
I want to thank Jen and Johanna particularly for bringing their love and humour to their work and daily interactions. I know that the practitioners and teachers all feel deeply supported and the clients warmly welcomed by how they are in themselves. The practice benefits from and builds on our shared values as well as Peg’s amazing gift.