Maria Ahern, The Compassionate Friends Chair of Trustees writes...
It is with great sorrow that I write to tell you that Joan Henderson passed away, peacefully, on the 3rd June in her 90th year.
Joan's funeral is on Tuesday 11th June at 12 midday at South Church, Stonehaven, in Scotland. There will be private cremation thereafter.
Most of you will know that Joan was one of the very small group who formed this Charity 50 years ago and it is through her courage, compassion and vision that we are able to offer comfort and solace to those who have suffered the worst loss imaginable.
I did not have the honour of meeting Joan but I have had cause to reflect often on the strength it must have taken to embark on the creation of this organisation. I have been full of admiration for her fortitude and strength.
Those of you who read “Compassion” will have noticed that in the January edition of the magazine, in ‘Thoughts from the Chair’ I incorrectly wrote that Iris Lawley was the only one of the original group still alive. I was wrong then and I was contacted by Joan’s daughter, Shona Henderson, who gently corrected my mistake and graciously accepted my profound apology.
In the commemorative edition of Compassion, there is a beautiful piece, written by Shona which gives us a picture of this remarkable woman who energised her grief into a passion for helping others. I was delighted to read that Joan was an avid knitter. It seems that she and I had so much in common and had I had the pleasure of meeting her, I’m sure that she would have had plenty of advice to give me on many subjects. The picture painted by Shona of a family immersed in crafting to sell and raise money for their fledgling “Society” gives us a snapshot of the determination of this small group. You have to smile as you picture the knitting and glueing and I hope to hear more about the knitted items that Joan made and Bills “Star Prize Bottles” in the coming months, as we commemorate their achievement. Thank you to Shona for taking the time to share her memories with us. The photograph of Joan that accompanies Shona’s piece speaks volumes. That smile is contagious!
Reading how the family responded to Billy’s loss is moving and awe inspiring and it is also testimony to the human spirit; responding to tragedy by instinctively turning to help others. How could we not be encouraged to follow their example and continue the Society that Bill and Joan Henderson devoted their lives to create?
We are all left deeply saddened by Joan’s passing, as we reach the milestone of her vision. I hope her family will have some comfort in knowing that Joan Henderson has left a huge legacy by helping to form The Compassionate Friends. All of us, around the globe, who receive support from this organisation, owe her a debt of gratitude. We will treasure her memory and that of her husband Bill and their beautiful 11 year old Billy for generations to come.
Our CEO, Carolyn Brice, all the Trustees (past and present), the staff and all the volunteers join me in offering my deepest and heart-felt condolences to the Henderson family for their loss.
Chair of Trustees
4th June 2019