International Commission on Couple and Family Relations


1953 – 1969 Prof. David Mace
(National Marriage Guidance Council, UK)

1970 – 1986 Nicholas Tyndall
(National Marriage Guidance Council, UK)

1986 – 1994 Dr Christopher Clulow
(Tavistock Marital Studies Institute, UK)

1986 – 2003 (Co-Chair) Dr. jur. Herman Pas

1994 – 1998 John Chambers OBE
(Relate, Northern Ireland)

1998 – 2001 Paul Tyrrell
(Centacare, Australia)

2001 – 2005 Derek Hill
(formerly Relate, UK)

See tribute to Mr Derek Hill

Mr Derek Hill

Mr Derek Hill

Mr Derek Hill, Past Chair of ICCFR, died 30 November 2012

Derek’s vision for ICCFR and the dedication with which he fulfilled his commitments as Chair made him one of the most significant figures that shaped the International Commission.  Many of us will recall the passionate speech he made at the 50th conference in Leuven, which encapsulated his determination to broaden ICCFR’s international and interdisciplinary community and make its collective knowledge and expertise accessible to a wider audience worldwide. For this, he will long be remembered.

Looking back, Derek’s involvement with the International Commission on Couple and Family Relations seems a natural progression of his previous work and interests.

With a degree in physics, a lifelong interest in photography and a pilot’s licence that sparked a fascination with aviation, he made his career in the British Council, working in more than 50 countries around the world. This included several years living in Sierra Leone with his family in the early 1970s. Back in the UK, he first became a volunteer counsellor for Relate and later left the British Council to become Relate’s Head of Training and then Head of Counselling, until his retirement. He published many articles and contributed to a number of books about counselling and therapy.

Derek first attended an ICCFR conference in 1992 on behalf of Relate. Commission Members recall with fondness and admiration his memorable skills as Group Facilitator at the conferences. His active involvement on the ICCFR Board began with the preparations for the 1998 ICCFR conference, which Relate hosted in Oxford, England. It was almost with regret that the decision was made to exchange his role as Group Facilitator for one of even greater benefit to the Commission, when in 2001 he accepted the invitation to take on the role of ICCFR Chair.  He applied to this role the same ability to pay personal attention to each member, while always being inclusive and mindful of the Commission’s needs as a whole.

During his time in office, and thanks to his initiative, the Commission made rapid progress in developing a professionally structured approach to its work and its conferences. Derek introduced a number of innovations for ICCFR, which helped it to become more relevant and contemporary. One of his first steps in office was to write the ICCFR Mission Statement, which helped shape the identity and clarified the purpose of the organisation. He ensured that its conference proceedings were published each year and disseminated worldwide. Striving ever towards greater accessibility for the international community to the Commission’s work, he was instrumental in setting up the ICCFR website. He contributed to this website for some years, even after he had retired as Chair. It is partly thanks to Derek’s collaboration that in 2003 the ICCFR Trust was officially launched as a registered charity, as he recognised in this another tool for accessibility, supporting professionals in the relevant fields to participate in the work of ICCFR.

Derek will be remembered not only as the Chair to whose dedication and initiative ICCFR owes such a debt of gratitude but also as a remarkable colleague and a loyal and supportive friend.  Messages sent from all around the world pay tribute to his wisdom and kindliness, his generosity in sharing his skills and expertise, his integrity, patience and thoughtfulness. I was one of those privileged to have worked with Derek during his years as Chair and so I am honoured to be the one to say on behalf of his friends and colleagues at ICCFR: Thank you, Derek.

Gerlind Richards MBE

Past Hon. Secretary General of ICCFR

2005 – 2010 Terry Prendergast
(Marriage Care, UK)

2010 – 2014 Marc Morris
(Welfare, Public Health and Family Department, Flemish Government)

2014 –  Anne Berger
(Berger & Small Law Office, USA)


Nicholas Tyndall, UK

Revd. Piet De Haene, Belgium
Prof. Jean Lemaire, France
Prof. Guido Groeger, Germany
Dr Lex Blankestijn, Netherlands
Dr. Walter Wydler, Switzerland


Honours and Tributes

Gerlind Richards MBE, Honorary Secretary-General for the ICCFR Commission 1978 – 2008

For full information please click here

Gerlind Richards was the trilingual administrator, translator, interpreter and Secretary-General of the ICCFR Commission for over 30 years. Initially working for the International Union of Family Organisations (now the World Family Organisation, WFO) in Paris, she returned to England with her husband, Bill, a banker, in 1982. Paid work with the IUFO was replaced by a voluntary administrative role, with a particular focus on the activities of what was by then the International Commission on Marriage and Interpersonal Relations, ICMIR. The responsibility that Gerlind had with the IUFO to support the non-Francophone affiliates provided Gerlind with an ever-expanding network of contacts, most of whom were indebted to her language skills to enable them to do their work. She used these skills and contacts to great advantage in building up the embryonic ICMIR. The first conference she organised was in 1978 in Vienna and she went on to organise a further 30 conferences across the world until her last in 2008 in Helsinki.

During this time, the Commission developed and grew and Gerlind was the linchpin that made these changes happen. Her first few conferences were annual get-togethers over two days attended by about 30 people on a subject that was simply introduced by the Chairman on the first day, then discussed for two days in informal groups that participants formed themselves and then reported back and finally summarised by the Chairman. This grew in complexity until the ICCFR conference format became a conference stretching over four days, with a plenary each day, three keynote speakers, two sets of workshops followed by pre-assigned discussion groups and finally a platform discussion.

The professionalisms of the attendees changed too, from an initial get-together for counsellors and therapists who were happy baring their souls and riding confusion or conflict, to a wider multinational conference with the developing countries, encouraged to attend by Gerlind and others. The Conference became a truly multidisciplinary event with practitioners, policy makers and lawyers from across the world. At its heart were small, multilingual discussion groups facilitated by skilled moderators, alongside keynote speeches. All this took Gerlind hours of careful planning, negotiation and ongoing dialogue.

Significant achievements on Gerlind’s part included the development of the governance of the commission from an informal ‘bureau’ to a formal Board with a proper structure, including men and women and non-Europeans. Gerlind worked with a total of six Chairs of the Board, all of whom had different styles of leadership. That entailed finding ways to work collaboratively with people of different temperaments and perspectives and who, because of their responsibilities elsewhere, differed greatly in the time they could devote to the Commission’s activities.

The ICMIR (and later the ICCFR) Commission was more than just the conference and Gerlind was the key point of contact in communicating with the members. She learnt new skills to keep up with new methods of communication, from postal services, telephone and fax to email, and in 2003 she helped set up the Commission’s website, of which she was editor for many years. She produced a newsletter twice a year to keep members engaged and an annual conference report. In order to grow the Commission, she spent a lot of time cold-calling new organisations and people to encourage them to engage with the ICCFR Commission. In the late 1990s she introduced the idea of a paying membership, which gradually grew to 80 members across 18 countries. This, along with a contact list of over 200 people, provided a core membership, which boosted the finances of the Commission annually.

In 1993, the Commission became independent. Although Gerlind initially carried the responsibilities of the finances, she insisted that the Board take over the finances and that a treasurer be found. Gerlind, with the aid of Simone Baverey, managed to restructure conference planning so that there was a two-year run-in time for conferences, which made planning and budgeting easier for host countries and organisations.

As the ICMIR (later ICCFR) Commission became increasingly international, Gerlind had to spend a lot of time enabling participants from developing or more isolated countries to attend, initially by obtaining visas and writing letters of support to institutions that wanted more and more evidence of the benefits for their staff of participation in a conference but latterly by identifying sponsorship for travel and conference participation. This led to the setting up in 2003 of the ICCFR Trust, in which Gerlind continues to play a major part even today. Through sponsorship by the ICCFR Trust, young professionals as well as other people are able to contribute to the richness of the conference. The ICCFR Trust also gives a grant to help fund the part-time Administrator.

Particularly in later years, Gerlind’s role grew from a very part-time voluntary activity to a full-time occupation and, eventually, one that needed an assistant. The success and growth of the ICCFR Commission owes much to Gerlind’s style of working. Much has been done quietly and in a kindly manner. Her patience, sense of humour, attention to detail and capacity to follow up issues until a solution is found have all contributed to her success in the role of Honorary Secretary-General. She has promoted friendships capable of overcoming technical problems and cultural differences. Most of all, she has communicated a remarkable and constant dedication to the purposes of ICCFR, which has inspired others to greater efforts. She says that perhaps her forte was being able to persuade people to give their time and use their resources on behalf of the Commission. Without Gerlind’s loyal, generous and dedicated hard work, the ICCFR Commission would not have been able to achieve what it did over the 30 years she worked for it. Everyone was delighted when, in 2003, just after the 50th anniversary of the Commission, Gerlind was rightly awarded the MBE in recognition of her work.


Terry Prendergast former ICCFR Chair gets OBE in New Year’s Honours List

Terry Prendergast, Chief Executive of Marriage Care for 12 years before retiring at Easter 2013, was given an OBE for services to families.

See full information


Terry Prendergast, Chief Executive of Marriage Care for 12 years before retiring at Easter 2013, was given an OBE for services to families. During Terry’s time at Marriage Care, he brought Marriage Care centres together as one organisation, successfully bid for ongoing national government funding and installed a national telephone appointment service so that clients could more easily access the help they needed.

During his time with Marriage Care, Terry was also active in supporting services to families more widely. He met regularly with his counterparts in the relationship support sector and helped form the Relationships Alliance. He was a committed member of the Churches Together for Families group, an ecumenical group that helped coordinate the work that churches do to support families, serving for three years as Chair. He speaks French fluently and this was a great asset to his time as a member of the Board of the International Commission on Couple and Family Relations (ICCFR), organising international interdisciplinary dialogue and learning among family lawyers, social workers, therapists and policy makers. He served as both Chair and Treasurer.

All at Marriage Care, both volunteers and staff, owe a lot to Terry’s vision and passion for serving families and we are thrilled that his services have been recognised.


Tribute to Mrs Simone Bavery, ICCFR Treasurer 2003 – 2008

See full tribute here
Simone Baverey

Simone Baverey

Mrs Simone Baverey | 28 April 1931 – 13 November 2011
Simone first made contact with the Commission (ICCFR) through her participation in its 1972 conference. Invited to become a Board member in 1997, she undertook the considerable task of organising the Commission’s 1999 conference held in Durban, South Africa. She subsequently became ICCFR’s Treasurer in 2003 and remained in that role until her retirement in 2008.

What made Simone a most valued contributor to the Commission’s activities was her training in social work in Strasbourg, France, and her move to South Africa where she lived and worked for most of her life. That move led her to seek out ways of using her social work skills in her new setting and resulted in her becoming the Director of the Family and Marriage Society of Durban (FAMSA). She served in that role for 32 years, building up the Society’s capacity to offer counselling, family therapy and life skills programmes, as well as to undertake outreach projects..

It will be no surprise to learn that Simone had an immediate impact on the Commission. Her energy, skills and forceful personality quickly identified her as a valuable addition to the membership of the Board. The 1999 Durban conference was a triumph for Simone and an event that will never be forgotten by those who participated in it. The conference made very evident Simone’s extensive network of professional workers in all parts of South African society. Her high standing among those professionals enabled her to secure the direct involvement in the conference programme of some with key roles in post-apartheid South African social development. Simone’s expertise in handling finance found expression through the comprehensive upgrading of the Commission’s accounting procedures, which she undertook as the organisation’s Treasurer, as well as introducing a range of improvements to the administration and organisation. There can be little doubt that those innovations helped the Commission to survive financially in hard times. Importantly, they also offered conference organisers, year by year, and in different countries, the ability to relate and combine local practices with the disciplines that the Commission had adopted.

Simone’s was a personality that one could not forget: courageous, strong and forthright, with a keen sense of humour and an infectious zest for life. Always firm of purpose, she had the courage of her convictions and the energy to carry them through. As a colleague, she spared no effort and time to ensure smooth and swift progress joint working. In the many years that we worked together, on conferences on different subjects and in different parts of the world, her experience of countries and people around the globe enabled her to make some of the most valuable contributions to the development of the Commission. Fluent in four languages and with a working knowledge of several more, she had a rare and deep understanding not only of the languages but of the people that spoke them and their cultures. Her passionate interest in all organisations and structures that served to support family life and relationships worldwide gave her an extensive knowledge of this area. She brought to the Commission important international perspectives: European, South African and traditional African, thanks to her own working life.

We all benefited from her insights, and her passing is recorded with great sadness. Simone was a very significant person – for the Commission, for her colleagues, for her friends – and we remember her with a deep sense of gratitude.

Gerlind Richards MBE, Trustee, ICCFR Trust; Past Honorary Secretary-General, ICCFR