In 2014 Carol Crane received the Quaich and book tokens for setting up the Rosie Crane Trust which supports bereaved parents through their grief after the loss of a son or daughter of any age. She told us about her experiences…
‘My youngest daughter, Rosie, was diagnosed with leukaemia at the age of 23 in 2003 and died 10 months later after a brave fight against the disease.
‘She had several sessions of chemotherapy at her local hospital and went into remission. We were full of hope for a few more years with her but the leukaemia returned in just a few weeks. Despite further chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a bone marrow transplant in Bristol she was unable to overcome a chest infection that developed and we were told there was no longer any hope. She knew for the last few days that she was going to die but was more concerned with how we would cope than with herself.
‘I thought, with all the highs and lows of her treatment and the times when we had come so close to losing her, that when she died I would already be part of the way through my grief – how wrong I was. I wasn’t prepared for the complete devastation that overtook me and for the emotional pain that became physical feeling as if a part of my heart had been ripped out. However, with a loving family and friends around me and the help of a counsellor I gradually got myself back together and was able to resume my life.
‘Much strength was gained from meeting up with other parents who had lost a daughter, shortly after we lost Rosie, and later with a mother who had lost a young son. It was such a relief to talk to others who really understood how I felt and from this came my idea to start a support group for bereaved parents.
‘After speaking to many people, including nurses and other professionals, all of whom were enthusiastic and positive, I went to see my family solicitor about drawing up a Declaration of Trust and approached people who had the expertise I lacked about becoming trustees. With five trustees joining me, we held a public meeting to gather ideas for fundraising. In October 2006 we launched the Rosie Crane Trust at a party night and raised enough funds to keep it running for a year.
‘I felt that monthly drop-in centres where parents could meet over a coffee in a friendly, safe and confidential environment would offer the kind of support I had found. To be able to express your feelings and thoughts, knowing you will be understood and not judged, can help to alleviate the feelings of isolation. I felt strongly we should offer a 24-hour Listening Ear Helpline, answered by trained bereaved parents. I was unable to find the help I needed early one morning when I was at my lowest point and so I wanted to be able to provide this help.
‘Starting with just one drop-in centre and three ‘listening ear’ volunteers, we now have two drop-in centres and a team of seven listening ear volunteers. We offer subsidised counselling for those in financial need and also a befriending service.
‘The trust is funded by donations from individuals, businesses and organisations as well as by our own many and varied fundraising activities. Individuals have also raised money for us through a sky dive, marathons and half marathons.
‘Our patron is Mrs Louise Chapman and her chef created a pudding in memory of Rosie – Rosie’s Chocolate Memories. 50p is donated to the trust for every one sold, raising more than £1200 so far. Rosie’s Cook Book will be published in October at our next Party Night with recipes from top chefs, Dominic Chapman, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Jamie Raftery, Liam Finnegan and Richard Guest, as well as more than 100 tried and tested recipes from family and friends.
‘Through the help and support of so many people we have achieved a lot in eight years and as Chair of the trust I hope to see it continue to grow and spread across the south west with the ultimate aim of it becoming national.’
Read about Mary Stott Award 2015 winner Linda Messham.