In light of the recent Government recommendations that the UK population should wherever possible avoid social contact and that all non-essential travel and meetings are avoided, we have made the decision to suspend all Compassionate Friends group support meetings and face to face support due to the rise in the spread of coronavirus. This is not a decision we have taken lightly, but rather it is to protect the health of our members and the wider community.
Our new Chair of Trustees, and bereaved dad, Andrew Miller, writes with huge honesty about the loss of his 19 year old son, Fabian, and his hopes for his 3 years tenure as Chair of our charity.
Dear Compassionate Friends,
Let me start by introducing myself as the new Chair of trustees of The Compassionate Friends. Many of you know me from one of the many retreats where I have volunteered over the last 3+ years and most recently at our amazing 50th Anniversary Commemoration held over the first weekend of November 2019 at Horwood House where I took on the role of compere.
I want to use my first “Thoughts from the Chair” to tell you a little bit about myself, what brought me to Compassionate Friends and what I have been doing over the last few years as a volunteer and trustee of TCF.
But first, I want to take this opportunity to say a huge vote of thanks to the person whose shoes I am stepping into, our wonderful Maria Ahern. Under Maria’s watch our Charity has grown from strength to strength. We now have over 90 support groups nationwide, run at least seven weekend support retreats every year for parents and siblings and last year saw us celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Compassionate Friends.
On Saturday 15 February a newly one-day supportive event in Chesterfield, Derbyshire was held for bereaved parents. It was run by Jan and a small team of volunteers - Mike, Pat, Lorna and Sue. We have had some wonderful feedback from the day - it is so good to see what a difference peer-to-peer support can make to grieving parents - finding out we are not alone, and that our feelings and reactions are 'normal' in our far-from-normal situation.
Sharing some of the feedback with you here...
“Just a note to thank you for yesterday. I found it a revelatory and widening experience and so liberating to be able to talk with, and listen to, others… a really outstanding occasion.” J
“I'm so glad I came …You were right once we walked in there was a warm welcome and we suddenly felt safe. It was like a sense of belonging, away from the real world. I needed that day as I did not feel alone anymore.
A hugely powerful piece by Thomas Harding on the death of his son Kadian at the age of 14 – and what he would say to his seven-year-younger self. This article is taken from a speech given to The Compassionate Friends 50th Anniversary Gathering of bereaved parents, siblings and grandparents last November.
Maria Ahern, Chair of Trustees of The Compassionate Friends, reviews the weekend of 1-3 November 2019 when 250 ‘compassionate friends’ gathered in the Buckinghamshire countryside to commemorate our charity’s Golden Jubilee year.
"Since we have just received a preview of the photographs of the 50th Anniversary Gathering, we thought that we would give you a whistle stop guide to the event and the programme. This is just a taster to go with the photographs which you can view in the Gallery on this page and I’m sure that we will be talking about it again in the New Year with a possible commemorative book to record the event.
So, what did we all get up to nestled in that sprawling hotel in the Buckinghamshire countryside?
Some of you will know that this event was two years in the planning. The Gathering Committee, the Board of Trustees, staff and volunteers along with the help of Gill Hardy’s colleagues who came to provide professional support, formed a dedicated team ready to meet any challenge. We planned and re-planned and thought and re-thought until we were confident that we had covered every base. Well, almost!
Many of our attendees were collected from the train station by Gary Thompson – who offered a wonderful shuttle service in a minibus provided by Ford Motor Co. On arrival, delegates were given their delegate bags containing some souvenir keepsakes of the event with our commemorative logo. The programme contained a floor plan of the hotel, which was much needed as every possible space of the building had been allocated for the use of workshops, sharing sessions, speakers, food and of course the bar. We didn’t leave an inch of the hotel unused which proved a bit of a challenge on the first evening given the unexpected turn of events. But challenges are meant to be overcome aren’t they?