The giant tree starts out as the tiniest shoot – Butterfly Children’s Hospices say farewell to Lyn

Categories: Leadership and People & Places.

In November last year, Butterfly Children’s Hospices in China said farewell to founder Lyn Gould when she retired. Lyn wrote a moving blog on their website about her retirement and it starts like this….

The giant tree starts out as the tiniest shoot, the tallest tower starts out as a single brick, the longest journey starts with the first step.” 
Lao Tzu

It was in 1995 when our journey began in earnest as I packed my bags for that first trip to China  – naive to all that would ensue.


At this time of ‘retirement’ I have been reflecting on the breadth of experiences of the last 25 years – the joys and the heartaches, the surprises and the learning.

Butterfly Children’s Hospices beginnings – Lyn and Alan

I’m thankful for the richness of those experiences, privileged to have been trusted in the care of so many fragile lives and accepted as a foreigner working in such a sensitive area in China.

I am hugely grateful and humbled when I reflect on all the people who have encouraged and joined me in the dream to pioneer palliative care for children in a country where none existed, and the concept was not understood.

I have experienced the truth that our lives are a gift from God. To have been entrusted to look after so many fragile babies and children has left an indelible legacy in me. I went to give and, instead, received. Each child held gave me a gift – an inexpressible touch of heaven, life beyond our human vision. The pain and loneliness in the eyes of those I saw and could not care for will forever be a sorrow to me. The limitations of resource and systems an enduring frustration.

Lyn Gould

All that has been achieved would have been impossible to do alone. I am thankful for my husband Alan adventuring with me and the huge number of people who have given so freely of themselves, their time, talent, resource and encouragement – each playing their unique and indispensable part.

My hopes

When we made the decision to move to live in China, we felt that the words from Ralph Waldo Emerson applied to us ‘Do not go where the path may lead go instead where there is no path and leave a trail’.

I hope that the children and staff in the Butterfly Home will continue to love and be loved

I hope that together we have sown enough seeds to bear much fruit throughout China for life-limited children and their families.

I hope that 2021 will bring fresh opportunity and resources to continue to support the spread of knowledge and inspire new services.

I trust that I have been obedient to God’s call on my life and that, together, we made a difference and a path that others will follow.

My love and thanks to all those children, staff, volunteers, friends (known and unknown), donors and prayers who have journeyed with me. I pray that you too will be blessed beyond measure.

Thank you to Lyn and to Butterfly Children’s Hospice’s for permission to use this blog content. You can find out more about their work on their website.




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