Hebburn couple to launch holiday retreat for those who have lost loves ones through suicide after daughter takes own life at 31

A couple have set out to create a retreat to help people struggling with grief after their daughter took her own life at 31-years-old.

Rachel Shaw with her mum Sue and dad Peter.
Rachel Shaw with her mum Sue and dad Peter.

Peter and Sue Shaw, both 55, from Hebburn have launched their plans for a countryside retreat after becoming ‘paralysed with shock’ following the tragic death of their daughter Rachel in 2020.

Following the terrible loss, the couple took some time away from home to have ‘some breathing space’ in the Yorkshire Dales where they ‘concentrated’ on their own well-being.

Peter and Sue, who have another daughter, Kate, 26, then decided they wanted to help others stricken by grief after losing a loved one to suicide by setting up Reach Out Retreat.

Rachel on her 18th birthday with mum Sue, dad Peter and sister Kate.

Peter said: “We have so many unanswered questions and the heartache just doesn’t go away.

"Rachel was beautiful and talented – She was a kind and loving daughter and after she had passed away we stood with our heads together and made a promise that we would be strong for our family and to do something that would mean her passing wasn’t in vain.”

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The couple explain how their time away helped them after losing Rachel, and why they want to help others, on a fundraising site for their project.

Rachel with her younger sister Kate Shaw.

They said: “We had booked a holiday cottage way back in February for the end of September and decided to still go ahead.

"We walked and cycled to fill the days then spent the evening with good wholesome food, books, jigsaw puzzles and a few glasses of wine. The break enabled us to step away from our home, which felt like a sanctuary one minute then a prison the next, and to talk freely about our feelings.

“Having decided to channel our grief into helping others suffering the same as we are, it was during sleepless nights and in the early hours of the morning that we came up with the idea of providing somewhere for others to retreat to away from home.”

The ambitious pair plan to set up a carbon-neutral countryside retreat in the North East to provide an environment where people can grieve ‘with no explanation’ or can have conversations with people going through the same thing.

Plans for the retreat include access to countryside walks and cycle routes, a cafe providing fresh, healthy meals and farm shop, a lounge with library facilities, a games room and therapy rooms.

Peter also hopes to fit solar lighting so it’s dark and quiet on an evening to ‘encourage sleep’ and an allotment for visitors to join gardening projects.

The couple now need donations to buy just one log cabin to prove the business is viable in order to receive funding to develop the rest of the retreat.

Peter said: "There are limited aftercare structures so we also want to help people even after they’ve left our retreat – it’s a difficult time for a lot of people.

“Losing a loved one to suicide is unbearable and you can’t reset the clock so now we want to help others in the same situation."

The family have set up a Just Giving page to start up the project, you can donate by visiting: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/reachoutretreat

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