History of Brainwave

Brainwave was founded in October 1982, the Charity was incorporated under the name of the Kerland Foundation.  It was not until 1995 that the Charity changed its name to Brainwave.


1986  Brainwave moved into its first centre at Huntworth Gate in Bridgwater, Somerset.

Over the years, assessment clinics have been held in Finland, Switzerland and Japan.

1996  Satellite Clinics started in Scotland.

2000  Satellite Clinics started in Ireland.

2003  A centre was opened in Navan, Ireland.  Unfortunately due to financial reasons the centre was closed in 2007, reverting to running twice yearly Satellite Clinics.

2005  Satellite Clinics in the South East commenced to trial the likely support for a clinic in the area.

2007  The South East Centre in Witham, Essex was opened.

2009  The North West Centre in Birchwood, Cheshire was opened.

2016  Satellite Clinics started in London.

During the last two decades, Brainwave has also carried out home assessments.  These are reassessments for children with difficulties that make it problematic for the families to attend a clinic.

Facilities and Staff

South West Centre

This is Brainwave’s biggest centre and the only one owned by the Charity.  Since September 1986, when it opened, the Charity has invested steadily in its facilities:

1995    Three bungalows were opened by Dr Michael Smith to provide accommodation for families attending the centre for assessments.

1999    The original sensory garden was completed.

2002    The hydrotherapy pool was opened by HRH The Countess of Wessex GCVO.

2003    A third therapy room was created to provide a cognitive suite with a quiet room for children on the autistic spectrum.

2004    Two new accommodation bungalows were built and opened by HRH The Countess of Wessex GCVO.

2004    The sensory garden was updated and a play area added.

2005    The sensory and cognitive provision was expanded by moving into another building on the site, which is now known as the Beehive.

2010    A sensory swing was purchased.

2011    The sensory and cognitive suite, The Beehive, was updated and new equipment installed.

2013    A new IT suite was installed featuring touch screen facilities and an interactive whiteboard.

2017    Our sensory garden was again updated with new sensory equipment, as well as a tribute to our staff member, Heidi Hopley, who passed away suddenly in 2016.

2017    Our South West Centre welcomed a Speech & Language Therapist to the team for the first time.

The centre now has four therapy rooms, a purpose-built multi-sensory room (MSR), and IT/cognitive suite, a sensory garden, a hydrotherapy pool and five well equipped, self-catering bungalows.

In 1986 the centre had three therapists; now, in 2018, it has a Head of Therapy, four physiotherapists (one of whom specialised in Sensory Integration), two educational therapists and a speech and language therapist.

South East Centre

This centre was set up in 2007 with two therapy rooms, a sensory room and a separate IT suite.

2010  A sensory swing was purchased.

2014  The sensory room was updated.

The team has grown to a Centre Manager (who is also a physiotherapist), a further physiotherapist, one occupational therapist and one speech and language therapist

North West Centre

This centre was set up in September 2009 with a state of the art sensory room with an interactive floor. 

2012    A sensory garden was opened.

2016    The sensory garden was refreshed with new plants, a safety floor and wheelchair swing.

2017    We introduced Gwalk and Footscan to the North West Centre.

2017    Large family changing room created.

The team comprises a Centre Manager (who is a physiotherapist), a further physiotherapist, one occupational therapist and a therapy assistant

Family Facilitators

2004    Instigated a regional family support service to talk to families about what they could expect from the Brainwave Programme and then support them while the child remained on the programme.

2010    The service was restructured to ensure that every family on a Brainwave Programme had a Family Facilitator to talk to, including Ireland and Scotland.

2017    The Family Facilitators started using 'Families of Brainwave' secret Facebook group to have constant contact with our families.

Changes to the Programme

In 1999 and 2007 research had been undertaken to help Brainwave develop its services, including:

1980s  Began videoing the programme to give to parents.

1997    Music therapy was introduced.

1998    The introduction of Certificates of Achievement, which are given to a child when they reach a milestone.

1999    A two hour a day programme was the norm.  This has now been reduced to half an hour.

2001    An equipment library was established to provide equipment for families to use at home.

2002    Hydrotherapy was introduced to the Brainwave Programme following the building of the hydrotherapy pool at the South West Centre.

2007    Speech and Language Therapy was introduced.

2008    Occupational Therapy was introduced. 

2013    iPads were introduced to be included in therapy programmes.

Presidents, Vice Presidents, Patrons, Ambassadors and other Supporters

Brainwave has been fortunate to have some significant supporters who became involved in the last two decades:

2000    Lord King of Bridgwater and Sir Christopher Airy became Vice Presidents.

2001    Tony Bullimore, Andrew Castle, Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Dr Michael Smith became Patrons.

2003    HRH The Countess of Wessex GCVO became Brainwave’s President and Dame Jane Whiteley became a Vice President.

2003    HRH The Countess of Wessex GCVO, alongside her husband the Earl of Wessex held a drinks reception at Buckingham Palace.

2004    Lady Gass, Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Somerset, became a Vice President.

2009    HRH The Countess of Wessex GCVO hosted a lunch at St James’ Palace.

2009    An Ambassadors Group, consisting of parents who have experienced having children on programme and friends, was set up.

2010    Olly Murs becomes a Patron.

2010    Evening event held in the House of Lords, with support from Lord King.

2011    A similar event was held at Speaker’s House, with support from Mr Speaker, John Bercow.

2013    HRH The Countess of Wessex GCVO spoke at the National Conference of the Inner Wheel of Great Britain and Ireland and received the first cheque of the Charity of the Year Partnership.  The Countess was presented with a memento by Xavier Bleasdale to celebrate her 10 years Brainwave’s President.

2016    The Lord Fellowes of West Stafford DL & The Lady Fellowes of West Stafford LVO become Patrons.

Charity Shops

Shops have been an important part of Brainwave, both as a source of income and as a way of raising awareness.  In 1997 the Charity decided to expand the shops it had, all of which are in the South West, and by 2000 the Charity had 14.  A further impetus for growth started in 2009 and in 2011 Brainwave opened its 23rd shop. Since then the shops' network has evolved with new shops opening and unfortunately, due to increases in rents and costs, some closing. 

The volunteers within our network play a major role in the success of the retail arm of the Charity and in 2017 there were over 200 volunteers assisting in the charity shops.