Families unite in bid to help grieving youngsters

UNITED ...  from left, parents Davy Carr, Jean Costello, Emma Robertson, Susan Clarkson and Alfie Leggett at the launch of the Cruse Crew, which aims to raise �30,000 to provide a bereavement support service for South Tyneside youngsters.
UNITED ... from left, parents Davy Carr, Jean Costello, Emma Robertson, Susan Clarkson and Alfie Leggett at the launch of the Cruse Crew, which aims to raise �30,000 to provide a bereavement support service for South Tyneside youngsters.

A GROUP of South Tyneside families have united in tragedy to try to raise £30,000 to set up a bereavement service for children in the borough.

Parents Jean Costello, Emma Robertson, Alfie Leggett, Susan Clarkson and Davy Carr have all suffered the pain of losing a loved one in recent years, and seen the affect it has had on their children.

Now they have joined forces to form the ‘Cruse Crew’, to embark on a fundraising mission in aid of Cruse Bereavement Care Tyneside.

The 12-month target to raise £30,000 will mean the charity, which already provides bereavement support to adults in the borough, could offer the same service to youngsters of all ages for at least three years from a local base. At the moment, families are having to travel to the charity’s office in High Heaton to make use of the support service for their kids.

The group of parents are being supported by the Shields Gazette in the endeavour, and also by former Mayor and Mayoress of South Tyneside, Coun Ernest Gibson and Patricia Ridley.

Coun Gibson met Mr Carr, 40, of Cedar Drive, Jarrow, during his time as Mayor, and heard first-hand of his concerns over the lack of bereavement support services for children in South Tyneside after he was left no option but to travel to Newcastle to get support for his two sons Ben, 10, and Keelan, 18, after the loss of their mum Joanne, 41, who died last year after a liver transplant could not be carried out in time.

Coun Gibson said: “When Patricia and I heard from Davy what he went through to get his two sons the support they needed after losing their mam, and from there learning how other families had also struggled to find support for their children, it was just heartbreaking.

“To lose someone is devastating, but then to have to watch your children struggle to come to terms with the death of a loved one and knowing they need support but being unable to find it here in South Tyneside – you just can’t comprehend it.”

“You can’t help but feel inspired by these families, which is why we have all come on board to support their endeavour and have created the Cruse Crew.

“Despite their own heartache, they are determined that the money needed will be raised to ensure there will be a bereavement support service for children and young people of all ages based here in South Tyneside.”

The Cruse Crew also includes family friends Paul and Mandy Kirton, Rachel Little, and Alana Vickers, plus Gazette reporter Lisa Nightingale and receptionist Joyce Auty. The group, which launched itself from TS Kelly Hebburn Sea Cadets, based in Prince Consort Industrial Estate, Hebburn, has also been given invaluable support from Asda, management at Hedworth Hall in South Shields and CE Sports, which provides sports activities for young people.

Over the next year, the Cruse Crew will be hosting a number of family-orientated fundraising events in a bid to raise the cash needed for the service to become a reality in South Tyneside.

Cruse Bereavement Care Tyneside is a branch of the national charity which offers bereavement support, delivered by trained volunteers, to those living within the Tyneside area.

Margaret Patterson, chairwoman of Cruse Bereavement Care Tyneside, said: “We are delighted that a group of people in South Tyneside has got together to form the Cruse Crew in order to improve bereavement support for children and young people within the borough.

“Bereavement can be a profoundly disturbing experience for children and have crippling consequences.

“Timely support can help them to understand their loss and achieve greater emotional wellbeing.

“Parents and carers currently have to travel to Cruse Tyneside in Newcastle to receive support for their children. At a vulnerable time, having support available nearer to home in South Tyneside would be a great advantage.

“The money raised by the Cruse Crew will enable Cruse Tyneside to deliver support for children and young people within the borough itself.

“This will bring the Cruse Children’s and Young People’s Service in South Tyneside in line with the bereavement support Cruse already gives to adults within the borough,

“On behalf of Cruse Tyneside, I thank everyone who has already given their time to support this worthy cause, and I wish the Cruse Crew every success in their aim of raising £30,000.”

Twitter: @shieldsgazlisa

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