Our History

The Story of Coquet Trust


Coquet Trust was founded in 1995 by Malcolm Johnson, a former nurse at Northgate Learning Disability Hospital.

After retiring from the NHS in 1991 Malcolm was approached by local families who were worried about what would happen to their learning-disabled relatives when they were no longer able to support them. In response, Malcolm set up Hillsview Trust in Kenton, as a small registered charity, to provide care for three young men in their own home.

Following this success, Malcolm then went on to set up Coquet Trust in January 1995. Since then:

  • Coquet Trust became a registered charity in May 1995 and, due to expansion, relocated to our current Head Office location in Gosforth.
  • Coquet Trust now employs over 250 staff delivering customised support to over 140 people in their own homes working with local authorities within the North Tyneside, Newcastle, Gateshead and Northumberland areas.
  • Coquet Trust is still a not-for-profit organisation reinvesting all money generated into providing personalised care and support services for adults with learning disabilities and autism.

Founder of Coquet Trust, Malcolm Johnson


In 1951, aged 17, Malcolm started work as a student nurse at Northgate Learning Disability Hospital in Morpeth, Northumberland, becoming a Charge Nurse, and then Day Services Manager.

In 1980 he received the Florence Nightingale Award from the Smith and Nephew Foundation.

This scholarship award, given to advance the study of nursing and promote excellence in practice, enabled Malcolm to visit America for 3 months, to study and explore the latest techniques and working practices. He remained lifelong friends with some of the families, and their family members with learning disabilities, that he met and stayed with during this time.

Malcolm brought back and incorporated some of these ideas into his work at Northgate Hospital where he had already set up a print shop, a woodwork shop, managed the speech therapy department and the Adult Training Centre where Northgate residents were able to earn money for the work they did (then called “pocket money”).

Having witnessed bad practices during his time as a student nurse, he was passionate about changing how the traditional institutionalised support system worked. He thought people deserved better than a system where everyone was treated the same and nothing was individual and believed people could live in their own homes with a support network.

Malcolm’s ethos still underpins the work of Coquet Trust, with our continuing emphasis on providing independent supported living for people in their own homes and engaging with them and their families on their own terms.