Norman and Frances Grundon became involved with the charity after their beloved two year old twin grandchildren, Betsy and William, were killed in an accident in 2004. Their daughter and son-in-law, Louise and Paul Woodbridge, were supported by Child Bereavement UK. Along with their son, Neil, the Grundon family has organised many events in aid of the charity from cycle rides to clay pigeon shoots and Memorial Planting Days for bereaved families.
When children in your family die, you never actually get over it. Everybody in that situation needs support; I know that without it, my daughter, Lou, quite frankly would never have made it. It was all very well for me, as her mother, trying to provide comfort, but I was grieving too. I was too close – help needed to come from outside, from professionals. The support Lou had from the charity was her lifeline – it enabled her to start to move forward. It’s a long journey and it takes time – it took Lou three years to really start to get back on her feet again. It affected me deeply as well, in fact I have been under counselling for three years now, seeing a psychologist. My grief didn’t go away – it has lain dormant. At the time that my grandchildren died, my feelings weren’t allowed to be expressed, so it has been a late onset for me. Seeing your daughter go through such a difficult kind of pain – it was like losing her too. I tried to be really strong for Lou – she never gets a ‘no’ from me, always a ‘yes’. With regard to Norman, it’s more difficult for him – men are not quite so good at talking about things. He felt terrible for Lou, he would hug her and wanted to do everything for her, but didn’t have the words for her. Men and women grieve and comfort differently; I think it’s more obvious for a mother to nurture than it is for a father, it comes more naturally. That is why it was so important for our daughter to have professional support; our words weren’t always right – the bereavement professionals at the charity have the right training, and they know how to get the best out of people. Even now Lou still gets bad days. It’s a lifetime of grief really.
Through our fundraising for Child Bereavement UK we have, however, as a family, been able to turn our bereavement into something more positive. We started fundraising for the charity officially in 2006 when Norman’s golf buddies got together to play a game and collected some money; this became the Grundon Golf Day. We have also organised a couple of Saint George’s Day Clay Pigeon Shoots in Beaconsfield which raised over £70,000. Our son, Neil, gets involved in organising clay shoots in conjunction with the waste industry, and raises several thousands of pounds each year.
Lou and Paul have been closely involved with Child Bereavement UK; they commissioned a rose in memory of Betsy and William and have been behind the development of a bereavement awareness campaign for schools, Elephant’s Tea Party. The bike ride that they organised was amazing – they cycled from London-Paris with 28 friends and that alone raised over £80,000.
My fundraising day that we hold here at Hedgerley Park in Buckinghamshire is a Memorial Planting Day. It has become clear that it has turned into quite an important day in the calendar and we hold it every other year. Norman and I organise it personally; we have a committee going to set up the day and we invite all our contacts. I had set up a little garden in 2006 in memory of Betsy and William and then decided it would be good if it became a memorial garden for other bereaved families. I then came upon the idea of doing a walk and that’s how it started. It’s not a big fundraiser – it’s more of a fun day – it’s not a miserable day, but happy in many ways. If you bring your children along there’s lots to do and see; we have Shire horses, swings and bouncy castles. Of course it is sad for those who are planting and remembering someone who has died, and when we go up back up and look at the little markers and the messages people have written, it can be quite sad. We allow people to come back and look at the bulbs, the bluebells and the tête-à-têtes, when they have bloomed in Spring; lots of people come to see them. But it’s a positive, busy day and I quite enjoy it; I’m rushing around making sure that it’s going well. It raises about £6000 so it’s not our main fundraiser – we don’t charge much for things – but I’m pleased that so many people come and that they get so much out of it.
I think you have to decide in your mind which charity you want to help; there are so many charities out there that you could get involved with. I get asked the question about the charity’s administration and overhead costs as for some charities, these can be very high, but Child Bereavement UK’s are low.
The support that Child Bereavement UK provides to bereaved families is very important; child bereavement could touch everybody – that’s why it’s such an important cause to support. I think too when you’ve had that kind bereavement – especially an accident in the home – you start to realise that it’s not uncommon. After it happened to us, I would see a report of an accident almost every day when I read the paper – it’s like when you see one red car you suddenly see six of them. Sadly we were one of the many.
I get a lot out of fundraising and knowing that it is helping so many people. We enjoy doing something positive for Child Bereavement UK, and it gives me some comfort.