Caitlin's Story

Caitlin's Retreat has been inspired by the life of Caitlin Darbyshire. Caitlin passed away in August 2006 aged 8, after a lifelong battle with a complex genetic brain disorder. Although severely handicapped, Caitlin lived a happy life filled with adventures, experiences and opportunities. Most importantly she was surrounded by the love of her family and all who came to know her.

Caitlin enjoyed the simple things in life. She loved exploring new environments, and the sensory delights of being outdoors; from the sun, wind, water and sounds. Her family took her on family vacations and outings, which were of great value, not only to Caitlin, but to her siblings and extended family.

In her short life Caitlin touched the lives of many different people quite profoundly. A beautiful child, she radiated an intense presence that captivated all around her. Unable to speak, her eyes were her means of communicating, with an alluring intensity that transcended both her youth, and her ultimate frailty. It was as if she was always destined for a greater purpose.

Perhaps part of that purpose is inspiring the development of Caitlin's Retreat; a unique place for special needs children and their families, to immerse themselves in and connect with nature. Most importantly, Caitlin's Retreat will enable special needs families to stop being a special needs family for a moment, and just enjoy being a family.

Caitlin's other great legacy is the Meerkat enclosure at the Royal Children's Hospital.