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How to Help Bereaved Parents

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marionsview62 Tue 28-Feb-17 09:46:41

Loss of a child at any age can be devastating, it is just the wrong way round. Grief is still not spoken of openly enough in our society and bereaved parents can feel very isolated and their friends can find it hard to know what to say or do. Carol Crane, a mother from Ilminster set up The Rosie Crane Trust to support other bereaved parents after the death of her daughter in her 20s, . It now runs two monthly drop in centres in Yeovil and Taunton where bereaved parents can mutually support each other. There is also a 24hr listening ear phone line, manned by trained bereaved parents which can be accessed free nationally. If you know anyone who needs this support, please tell them about the Trust.
Carol Crane launched The Rosie Crane Trust, supporting bereaved parents, in 2006 with the help and support of her local community, family and friends.
Although based from her home in Horton, Ilminster the charity reaches out to bereaved parents of any age, nationwide with a 24hr Listening Ear Helpline, manned by specially trained bereaved parents able to listen, empathise and offer referrals to other helpful organisations and professionals. The Trust also offers a Befriending Service and a Regular Call-back option. They also supply funding for Subsidised Counselling to those bereaved parents struggling financially and more locally there are two very successful monthly Drop in Centres established in Yeovil and Taunton. Complimentary therapies and specialist speakers sometimes attend these sessions but mostly it is the informal safe space where parents can support each other that is so badly needed. There is also an Annual Candle Lighting held at each venue.
Ten years on, The Rosie Crane Trust continues to grow, helping bereaved
parents of any age, thanks to a long list of supporters. Its founder is infinitely grateful for all the donations her charity has received. Carol’s own dedication to the Trust has earned her personal recognition; accepting the Western Gazette Pride Award in 2013 and the Mary Stott Award in 2014 but it is the number of grieving parents who have been helped which is the true reward.
Carol admits it has not been an easy road and the charity has taken a lot of hard work and personal time but she is thankful to be able to offer such meaningful support to others in her position:” Generally, people find it really useful to talk to someone else who has lost a son or daughter, to share how they think and feel and how it affects their life.” She said. “We don’t say ‘child’ anymore because age doesn’t make the grief any easier, no parent expects to outlive their children and you can be 80 and still grieve the loss of a 60 year old.
“We know we are reaching more people now because we are registered on NHS sites and with our own website and more recently, increased followers on social media, we get a lot of calls from other areas especially from the North of England.
We try to find other avenues of support to help them in whatever area they are calling from. Locally, we work closely with “Towards Tomorrow Together’ which supports the parents of still birth, SIDS and miscarriage and with the Jemima Layzell Trust which supports young people with brain injury.
“People told me it was going to be hard setting up a charity and it is hard but then it is a lifelong commitment for me. I’d always intended to do something to give back to society and this is close to my heart.”
It is a task which she could never have done alone and Carol has had the support of her other children, many friends and volunteers .
“When bereaved parents contact us and we take their details, they are asked if they would like to receive a ‘Thinking of You’ card from the Trust on the significant anniversaries which can be the hardest times. Personally, I find birthdays a lot harder as it highlights how old Rosie would have been and the expectations for the future which have now gone. This particular job, along with general admin, is something I struggle to keep up with and I could really do with another volunteer to help with it. I would also like more volunteers for the Listening Ear Helpline and Drop In’s but we do specify they must be bereaved at
least two years, be good listeners and prepared to undertake training.
“Over the last ten years, I have had a core of six trustees which have changed from time to time but I have always ensured there was at least one other bereaved parent on the board to sound ideas against. I am incredibly grateful to all my Trustees, past and present and the band of volunteers who are invaluable to the Trust. We have also been so fortunate in receiving support, not just from individuals but businesses.”
Fundraisers have included: Sky Diving, Marathons, 10K Runs, Walks and Iron Man events but also some more unusual ideas.
The fifth anniversary of the foundation of the Trust was marked by the
patronage of Mrs Louise Chapman, proprietor of the Castle Hotel in Taunton who has helped a great deal to raise the profile of the charity, countywide. A special signature dessert was created and developed with the aid of her chefs; Rosie’s Chocolate Memories Pudding. Each one sold in the hotel restaurant, donates 50p to charity and the staff are trained to explain the aims of The Rosie Crane Trust to their customers.
It is a serious cause but before her illness, Rosie was a vibrant young girl, known for her frequent giggle and Carol appreciates the importance of humour, inviting fundraisers to be as quirky as they can with their ideas.
“We are currently the charity of the year for the Taunton branch of Porter
Dodson Solicitors who are holding monthly fundraisers and have really gone for it. To date, they have held cream teas, paper plane races and even had an office Olympics. I was invited to present the medals and we had a media link to their other offices, it was great fun.
“ The Cascade of Coffee Mornings has been a good fundraiser, with various people holding them throughout the year, often including something a bit unusual. Carole and Ian Clare who had three children all due to have babies held a sweepstake at their Coffee Morning to guess the sexes which raised over £1,000. This year, they each had another three babies and the competition was ‘guess the combined weight’ which raised over £600.
“The Cookery Book was my idea. Rosie was born in 1980, the year I did a book to raise money for Broadway Village Hall so I thought it was a good idea to do another. Our patron’s son is a chef, along with other chef’s he donated recipes so we thought we would go for a higher quality, full colour book and collected over 100 tried and tested recipes from the chefs and our friends and family. My cousin, Ian West is a photographer and he photographed the finished dishes,Rosie’s father Andrew Crane is a graphic designer so the only cost to the Trust was the printing. We had 200 printed and have about 12 left.
“ We have held a Summer Fete with Birds of Prey in Dowlish Wake and several Party Nights and an Auction of Promises. The Steel Band Evening at Langford Budville was particularly good. Monks Yard had us there for two of their Summer Fetes, a Christmas Craft Fair and as their Charity of the Month. County Hall where Rosie worked in the Education Finance Department, continue to support us. I had donations to the Trust for my 60th birthday and other supporters have done the same. We have had Neals Yard and Forever Aloe events, a Flower Arranging Demonstration by Cottage Flowers Ilminster, joined in the Ilminster ChristmasTree Festival and Crewkerne Hospital Fete and have gratefully received donations from many local groups such as the Rotary Club, Inner Wheel,Brownies, Horton and Broadway Cricket Club, Wrecks Skittle Team, the Velocette Owners Club, Ilminster Angling Society, Long Sutton Golf Club and Ilminster and Chard Masonic Lodges. We have also received donations from Asda, Co-Operative, Sainsburys and Waitrose.”
For the last three years, Carol has also been a volunteer facilitator and trainer for Grief Journey UK, a community bereavement support programme based on the work of Dr. Bill Webster whose book “Now What” helped her through her own darkest days. She leads with other volunteers, sponsored by A E Stoodley & Son in Crewkerne at Grief Journey South Somerset:
“ I have been asked many times about supporting other family members but can’t do that through the Trust as we want to keep to the core expertise and principles of the charity. Through Grief Journey UK , I can help support other family members and those grieving for their spouse, partner or friend.”
Looking ahead, The Rosie Crane Trust is hoping to expand to another Drop in Centre in Street, if enough suitable, bereaved parent volunteers can be found as it is too much for Carol to take every session herself.
“ We are constantly working to increase public awareness, raising the profile of the charity so more people who find themselves in the awful situation of losing a son or daughter, which is completely the wrong way round, have that choice of support”. 24hr Listening Ear 01460 55 120

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