Graeme is the founder of Stepping Stone Trust, a community mental health recovery service, as well as the Caroline Reid Family Support Service for children affected by their parent’s mental illness.
Graeme was born in the winter of 1945, in Christchurch. He met Caroline in 1970, while she was a nursing student. They got married in 1971 and were very happy. Their children were born in 1972 and 1973. Sadly, Caroline was plunged into severe mental illness shortly after the birth of their youngest, taking the Reid family on a journey that lasted 30 years.
During these difficult years the words of a terminally ill man – when you go through your life, there will be a lot of weeds, but make sure you focus on the flowers – struck a chord. Graeme became a chaplain and community worker, and set out to help the people around him.
In 1983 Graeme, with the Spreydon Baptist Church, set up a community drop-in centre for people that were not able to access mental health facilities. He followed that up with the Tuesday Night fellowship, set up for vulnerable people in 1991.
Graeme created the Stepping Stone Trust in 1998, which grew into the largest non-governmental mental health service in Canterbury, providing community support, residential services, and emergency housing.
Caroline's mental health improved a great deal, but her physical health declined and she died of cancer in 2002.
Graeme created the Caroline Reid Family Support Trust in 2003, to help support and care for children that grow up in families that are affected by mental health illness.
After some years Graeme met and fell in love with Maebry, and they married in 2007. Graeme retired from his community work at Spreydon Baptist Church in 2010. In 2015 Graeme and Maebry volunteered for Presbyterian Global Missions New Zealand in Vanuatu.
For Graeme’s enduring services to mental health support, Queen Elizabeth awarded him with the Queen’s Service Medal on 3 June 2019. Graeme received his award on 19 September 2019 in Wellington, from Dame Patsy Reddy, New Zealand’s Governor-General.
Beyond the Gate is an eye-opening read. The Reid family had a difficult time, but their experiences are an encouragement to anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation, and provides a rare insight for people who have not been directly impacted by mental illness.