ATV   Network   was   proud   to   promote   the   fact   that   Crossroads   was   the   first   soap   with   a   real   social   awareness.   The ATV   Midland   production   from   the   outset decided   that   by   reaching   millions   of   viewers   it   could   "do   good"   in   the   real   world   as   well   as   in   the   fictional   world   of   Kings Oak. The   crew   helped   many   good   causes   over   the   years   by   introducing   topical   storylines   from   time   to   time.   In   many   cases, this   also   went   on   to   help   in   the   real   world.   One   high   profile   'good   cause'   being   the   founding   of   a   Birmingham   hospital ward   funded   by   ATV   and   Crossroads   viewers.   It   was   designed   especially   for   kidney   care   following   a   1977   storyline surrounding   one   of   the   main   characters   undergoing   a   kidney   transplant.   Crossroads   truly   is   the   only   soap   that   really   has changed the world for the better - and it's mainly thanks to the Caring For Carers scheme. In   1974 ATV   Network   Limited   and   the   Crossroads   production   team   helped   found   what   would   become   the   biggest   leading voluntary sector provider of home-based breaks for carers in the world. The   needs   of   carers   first   came   to   the   attention   of   producer   Reg   Watson   as   a   result   of   the   storyline   involving   the character   Sandy   Richardson,   who   was   left   paraplegic   after   a   car   accident.   Sandy   had   been   a   regular   in   the   show   since 1964,   and   viewers   followed   his   lifestyle   change   from   being   a   fully   able-bodied   former   to   having   to   depend   on   the   care   of his mother. Many   hours   of   research   were   carried   out   by   the   Crossroads   production   team   before   the   storyline   went   to   air   at   the Robert   Jones   And   Agnes   Hunt   Orthopedic   Hospital   at   Oswestry   and   the   Stoke   Mandeville   Hospital   in   Buckinghamshire   to make sure Roger's performance as Sandy was as authentic as possible. Noel   Crane,   who   had   become   a   wheelchair   user   after   a   swimming   accident   in   1970,   telephoned   ATV   to   offer   more   advice   after   seeing   an   episode   of   the programme.   Reg   Watson   met   Noel   and   took   on   board   many   additional   points   of   interest   following   the   discussions   with   Noel.   From   this   meeting   the   script writers devised another character, based on Noel’s experiences. Tony Scott was to be a friend of Sandy with actor Peter Graham playing the part. An   ATV   Network   press   release   at   the   time   of   the   storyline   noted:   "The   idea   is   to   show   viewers   that   Handicapped   people   value   their independence and also the devoted care given to them by their relatives." Despite   the   hours   of   research   beforehand   folklore   has   it   that   Sandy   would   eventually   walk,   possibly   from   wishful   discussions   between   scriptwriters. However,   Sandy   was   never   destined   to   walk   again   as   noted   in   an   interview   from   the   time   with   producer   Reg   Watson.   Reg   made   it   clear   from   the   outset Sandy’s injuries were a “forever” situation with the character. “Everything   is   carefully   researched   to   make   sure   we   have   no   inaccurate   impressions   given.   For   example,   when Sandy   had   the   accident   we   argued   for   a   long   time   about   whether   he   would   really   have   let   someone   who   was obviously   drunk   take   over   the   driving.   We   were   talking   to   one   of   the   surgeons   at   Stoke   Mandeville   Hospital, which   were   our   source   of   information   for   the   spinal   injuries,   and   he   said   'The   same   thing   happened   to   me, only luckily we did not have a crash." "We   had   to   take   the   whole   storyline   very   seriously,   we   also   had   advice   from   ATV's   own   Dr.   Richard   Hudson- Evans   and   the   Robert   Jones   And   Agnes   Hunt   Orthopedic   Hospital.   We   had   to   make   sure   that   the   actor,   Roger Tonge,   realised   it   would   mean   sitting   in   a   wheel-chair   for   the   rest   of   his   time   in   Crossroads. Yes,   it   would   have been   wonderfully   dramatic   if   suddenly   he   could   stand   up   and   walk,   but   we   knew   from   the   start   medically   that just   cannot   happen,   so   it   will   not   happen.   Crossroads   is   about   people,   real   everyday   people,   so   it   has   to   be real we cannot cheat." - Reg Watson 29th June 1973 to reporter Edwina Tarpley Following   the   initial   storyline,   Dr   Wendy   Greengross   was   hired   by   Crossroads   as   the   shows   medical   advisor   to   make   sure   all future   debate   on   Sandy   was   accurate.   When   Noele   Gordon,   the   actress   playing   Sandy's   mother   and   carer,   was   due   to   take a   months   holiday   the   scriptwriters   were   faced   with   the   dilemma   of   who   would   look   after   Sandy.   This   they   soon   realised was,   and   indeed   still   is,   an   issue   faced   by   many   carers   who   have   no   other   help   with   their   caring   duties.   It   was   Noele herself   who   started   the   wheels   rolling   for   ATV   to   'do   something   about   it'.   At   the   time   of   the   story   no   government   funded assistance   was   available,   nor   was   there   any   charity   offering   support.   In   the   show   Meg   helped   launch   a   fictional   Caring   for   Carers   scheme.   Letters   and phone calls to ATV soon were asking about the service. Concerned   that   there   wasn’t   any   help   open   to   the   viewers   contacting   ATV   Noele   spoke   with   the   studios’   medical   advisor   Dr   Richard   Hudson-Evans   who backed   her   suggestions   of   turning   the   fictional   Caring   for   Carers   scheme   into   a   real   service. The   organisation   would   be   tasked   with   providing   relatives   with the   opportunity   to   take   a   break   from   caring   for   their   loved   ones.   Noele,   Dr   Richard   and   producer   Reg   Watson   approached ATV   Network   Senior   Director   Leonard   Mathews   who   agreed   for   the   television   company   to   make   funds   available   for   a   pilot scheme. The initial trial service would run for two years in Rugby, Warwickshire, launching in 1974. ATV   invested   the   founding   £10,000   to   establish   Crossroads   Caring   for   Carers.   In   the   first   year   of   operation   Crossroads supported   just   28   families.   Miss   Sankey,   the   then   District   Nurse Tutor   for   Warwickshire,   was   given   the   task   of   coordinating the Rugby scheme while Leonard Mathews became the Chairman of the Trust. Professional   Home   Care Attendants   were   required,   a   role   that   simply   hadn’t   existed   previously.   In   order   to   find   the   right team   special   feature   reports   were   broadcast   on   Midlands   news   programme   ATV   Today,   as   well   as   detailed   job   adverts   in the   local   press.   Following   thousands   of   applications   many   interviews   were   held   to   find   suitable   candidates,   and   by   the end   of   that   first   recruitment   drive   five   care   attendants   were   hired.   Miss   Sankey   provided   the   recruits   with   basic   nursing and care training. In the first two, ATV funded years, over three thousand visits were made by the carers. The   Crossroads   Care   Attendant   Scheme   became   a   national   organisation   in   April   1977.   In   the   same   year   the   EEC   made   a grant   of   £100,000   for   a   research   project   into   housing   for   disabled   people.   This   project   was   undertaken   by   the   Crossroads Trust, with a contract being issued by The Department For Environment. The first care scheme began in Scotland in 1978. Sandy   continued   to   be   seen   in   Crossroads   up   until   the   actor's   death   in   1981.   Roger   Tonge's   on-screen   persona   proved popular   with   young   disabled   people,   many   hundreds   writing   to   him   every   week   to   thank   him   for   portraying   an   ‘everyday   disabled   person’   on-screen.   Sandy wasn't   a   token   wheelchair   user.   His   disability   was   rarely,   after   the   initial   caring   scheme   plot,   an   "issue"   within   the   show.   Instead,   Crossroads   producers showed   Sandy   leading   an   everyday   life   -   as   assistant   manager   of   the   motel,   various   romances   and   even   joining   The   Samaritans   to   help   others   'less fortunate' than himself. The   story   may   have   long   ended;   but   its   legacy   continues.   Crossroads   Caring   for   Carers,   as   of   2010,   supports   around   200 member   schemes   throughout   England   and   Wales.   There   are   over   33,000   carers   and   they   spend   over   four   million   hours   a year   providing   their   services   to   the   venture.   Many   of   the   outlets   have   grown   to   provide   additional   services   including Young Carers projects, holiday play schemes for disabled children and care for the terminally ill. All   of   the   regional   Crossroads   schemes   operate   as   independent   charities   and   worked   within   a   national   framework   of   the Carers   UK   organisation.   Despite   the   national   unified   brand   each   'Caring   for   Carers'   region   individually   raise   their   own funds within the local area. In   2012   the   organisation   was   expanded   when   Crossroads   Care   merged   with   the   Princess   Royal   Trust   for   Carers   which   had been   founded   in   1991.   The   two   bodies   formed   Carers   Trust,   however   as   previously   the   Crossroads   Care   services   continue to offer services under that brand - with some even reverting to the Crossroads Caring for Carers name. It   is   quite   ironic   that   Ivor   Jay,   the   long   serving   script   editor   on   Crossroads,   should   in   his   final   years   be   assisted   by   the organisation   that   through   his   scripts   he   helped   create.   Ivor   before   joining   the   saga   had   been   a   regional   newspaper reporter who in 1964 proposed to ATV a ‘boarding house serial with two sisters’ which was developed into Crossroads. The   fan   club   and   Crossroads   cast   are   still   closely   connected   with   the   charity,   Jane   Rossington   visited   Crossroads   Scotland in   1999   to   film   a   TV   appeal   to   mark   their   21st   anniversary   while   we   continue   to   support   the   cause;   In   1989   we   held   a special   celebration   to   mark   the   25th   anniversary   of   the   soap   -   of   which   all   the   profit   from   the   society   gathering   was   donated   to   the   charity. Also,   a   speaker from   Caring   for   Carers   attended   the   celebrations   to   talk   about   the   work   of   the   organisation.   More   recently   in   2011   we   donated   proceeds   of   a   ‘Noele Gordon Day’ event in Birmingham to the care scheme.