16th June 2019 – RAF Lakenheath Charity Bike Ride
Shortly after my wife Lynne died by suicide in April 2015, my good friend Dave Ryan, who was also touched by suicide some 18 years ago, wanted to do something worthwhile for my support group, and came up with the idea of a 24 hour charity bike ride around RAF Lakenheath.
It took over 3 years of tenacity to overcome many obstacles, but eventually his persistence paid off, and on the 16th July 2019, the inaugural 24 hour bike ride took place.
I was not able to partake in the team or individual event thanks to my medical issues earlier this year. But I did manage to persuade and bribe, with the promise of chocolate, Chris Emerton (from the Bury group). I am so pleased that she agreed to help over the weekend.
The Saturday started early, setting up the administration and route markings and the event was started by the 48th Fighter Wing, Deputy Wing Commander, who said some good words about mental health and suicide bereavement.
So at two o’clock all the riders did the first lap together, which included Chris and I in our HOPE T-shirts, and as that lap completed, the race was on! and Chris and I took our place at the organisers tent ready to count and score laps.
Due to weather and a clash with father’s day, there were less riders than hoped for. But that said we all had a great time.
The course was 5 and half miles long including cycling down the runway which was an exhilarating experience.
Around 4 o’clock and inspired by the other riders, I persuaded Chris, with more chocolate, to ride another lap which we did.
Although the race carried on through the night, at 6pm Chris and I were sent off duty for 12 hours. We both decided it would be really good to come back after dark and ride the runway at night with the landing lights on. That was very special.
Sunday 6am we were back at the official tent. There was at least one rider out on the track throughout the night, while others slept in various facilities!
There were a few extra riders on the sunday, including 3 individuals who we nicknamed “the professional Riders”. Now bear in mind Chris and I set a blistering pace of completing one circuit in 29 minutes, most other riders were clocking 22 – 25 minutes a lap, the “Professional” guys did a slow lap in 20 minutes, then a fast lap in 14 minutes reaching 50 mph down the runway – wow. But they must have burnt themselves out, because they “had to” leave shortly after!!
Chris and I decided to do one more lap at midday, but could not quite match the course record!
The race concluded at 2pm and all riders, yes including Chris and I, did the final valedictory lap together. You know, like they do in the Tour de France.
Over the 24 hours the winner did some 30 laps, 162 miles, including taking a five hour break on Saturday evening to go to a friends wedding!!
Chris and I did a total of 5 laps each – 28.5 miles which we were both very pleased and proud of.
After the race there was a BBQ laid on and we set up the HOPE banner for folks to come and chat.
So as you can see we had a very fun, if exhausting, weekend, we got our message out on suicide bereavement and raised some valuable funds for HOPE on the way.
I believe the plan is to run the event again next year, but of course I may be down for washing my hair that day!
Massive thank you to Chris for her support with the event, and keeping me company on the laps, oh and if anyone hears rumours of Chris beating me in a sprint finish, on one of our laps, then can I just say there is no tangible evidence of that happening, oh and I promise to get that chocolate to her as soon as I am able!!
May 26th 2019
Esther Fundraises for Hope
On Sunday 26 May I did the Cambridge colour rush.
It was a lovely sunny day (slightly too warm for running). We did 5k around Coldhams Common, completed in just over 30 minutes. There was a great turn out and a lot of colourful fun was had as you can see haha .
May 4th 2019
Annual Service of Remembrance – King’s Lynn Minster
On Saturday 4 May 2019,  survivors travelled from Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft to the King’s Lynn Minster for the annual service of remembrance for those who have taken their own life.
The Reverend Canon Chris Ivory, Team Rector of King’s Lynn welcomed all to the Minster and opened the service with a prayer and the first hymn “Guide me O thou Great Redeemer”. As in previous years, four survivors (Eva, Cate, Sarah and Charlotte) were invited to carry a candle, each symbolising the grief, courage, memories and love that each survivor brought to the gathering. The lit candles were placed at the front of the Minster and remained there throughout the service.
After further prayer, Suzy Clifford (founder of Hope After Suicide Loss) was invited to speak. Suzy spoke incredibly movingly of her own experience of losing her husband Len to suicide ten years ago, and the difficult and painful journey she had navigated to find peace. Suzy’s openness was so touching and moved a number of survivors to tears as she recounted the early days following Len’s death when she was overwhelmed by loss, guilt, anger and hopelessness. Suzy went on to explain how, with a large focus on hope and unconditional love, she had been able to slowly process and move through her grief to a place of peace. Suzy’s brave words resonated with many and all were thankful she had been able to share her story with us.
After another hymn “Love Divine”, HM Coroner Jacqueline Lake delivered a bible reading. Canon Andy Bryant then reflected “On feeling alone” a speech which struck a chord with many survivors. The Book of Remembrance was then brought forward and each member of the congregation was invited to come forward and light a candle and place it on the altar in memory of their loved one. An emotional part of the service, many survivors shed tears and comforted each other.
The remembrance and prayers from the Reverend Canon Chris Copsey followed. A member of each bereaved family was then invited to come forward and receive a lit candle inscribed with the words “In the darkness and shadows, warm us with your love and light”, given to survivors with love and hope. The candle was for each survivor to light when they were experiencing difficult moments. The Right Reverend Jonathan Meyrick, Bishop of Lynn then read “He called me to walk”, a piece written by the Reverend Sally Coleman. All then sang the last hymn “Lord of all Hopefulness” and the service closed with a blessing and the dismissal.
After the service survivors enjoyed refreshments and the chance to meet Reverend Canon Chris Copsey, one of the directors of HOPE. Survivors expressed how beneficial it was to be able to express their loss, grief and upset in a safe place. The Book of Remembrance was available before and after the service to allow survivors to record the names of their loved ones and a message or tribute to them.
Following the service, survivors went to the nearby public house The Crown, in Mundford for drinks and a meal. This was a chance for survivors to discuss the service and to catch up with each other in a more informal setting. We left tired and full at 6.30 p.m. for the return journey home. All agreed it was a lovely, although very moving, day.
Nov 7th 2018
Willis Towers Watson Fundraiser
On Wednesday 7 November Willis Towers Watson hosted a fundraiser in their magnificent Grade 1 listed building, (as we were to later find out from Ollie), in the heart of Ipswich.
The central escalator area of the huge, open plan, iconic office building was decorated with the purple balloons thanks to Ollie, who also cropped and printed the photos and details for the Wall of Love. This certainly left those who work in the building in no doubt about the beneficiary of the fundraising!
Survivors brought cakes they had made or bought and a huge number of employers donated boxes and tins of cakes, the majority of which had been home-made and beautifully crafted. Some people brought in three or four boxes! Their generosity in this, buying the cakes and donating through the buckets was overwhelming.
Vicki from Willis Towers Watson, who had arranged the event, had procured two large trolleys from the company and, together with the one brought in by Anne, enabled each floor to have its own trolley, which was loaded with goodies and taken to the employees at their desks. People were very complimentary about this personal service, which generated lots more cash for the collections. Once more, WTW employees were exceedingly generous in their purchases. At one time the queue of employees who couldn’t wait for the cake trolley to visit them and so had come to the table in the entrance lobby, was almost out of the door!
A raffle had been organised and the quality of the gifts encouraged many people to buy tickets. Some survivors spent all day concentrating on this aspect of the fundraising, whilst others manned the huge cake table near to the entrance or undertook the trolley rounds.
The day raised a total of £2,647.63 and thanks go to the following survivors for giving up their time – Lara, Cate, Debbie, Dave, Esther, Gemma, Ollie, Sylvia, Clive, Katie, Vicki and Anne. As with everything, none of this would have been possible without Suzy at the helm and I’m sure she knows how much her efforts are always appreciated. It was a very long day, everyone worked extremely hard, feet were sore and doubtless many long, hot baths were well-earned. However, everyone felt it was worth it and the outpouring of genuine love and concern for survivors, together with the phenomenal amount raised, made our efforts so very worthwhile.
May 12th 2018
Annual CLASP ‘Walking out of Darkness’ Event 2018
On Saturday 12th May, survivors travelled from Suffolk to take part in the annual CLASP ‘Walking out of Darkness’ event starting at Battersea Park in London. Here is Graham’s description of the day…
Clasp Walk London 12th May 2018
This was to be the fourth annual CLASP walk which we have attended, and was to be our biggest group to date filling a 29-seater coach and others making their own way to London town.
It was a overcast Saturday, 12th May 2018 when the first group of dedicated walkers arrived for the 6.30 start (yes that is not a misprint, 6.30 am on a Saturday). We duly left on time to travel to Ipswich to pick up survivors from Ipswich and Lowestoft group.
So a full coach and everyone seated we set of for Battersea park, London.
We arrived in good time and made our way straight to the coffee and cake stalls that were just opening up.
There were the usual excellent motivational speakers and an emotional speech from the organiser Paul, who had been struggling with a personal battle just a few days earlier.
There was an enthusiastic, for some, traditional warm up before the group photos, see photos above (no point in taking one at the end when exhaustion has set in!)
So off we all trotted, well walked with enthusiasm and high spirits to take the 10 (13 in real terms!) glorious miles around the sights of London.
All faired very well until around midday when the rain that had been forecast for late afternoon decided to make an early appearance. Not deterred we decided after an hour to stop for a well earned lunch and warm drink. After the stop we tried to get going again – easier for some than others of course.
Unfortunately the rain continued, but it did not dampen the spirits of those walking. There was then our first casualty, Sharon’s son Josh took very unwell, something to do with eating under age nuts (a joke between Graham, Sharon, Trish and Josh). Anyway it was the end of the journey for Sharon and Josh – but an after note, Josh has made a good recovery and was able to take his exams after all!
We finished the walk around 4 pm and the rain meant the after walk party was somewhat curtailed, but the free food and ice cream was a definite warm welcome.
After a suitable rest for recovery for this those that needed it, we all set off on our respective journeys home, finally getting back to Bury around 8.30 and it was raining even harder than in London, but it was the last leg of the journey and the thought of a cup of tea and a soak in the bath kept many in high spirits I am sure.
From what I saw, everyone had a good day. Many talked about their loved ones they lost throughout the day, and how glad they were to be able to take part in memory of them. There was also quite a bit of laughing and fun which was important too. Congratulations to everyone who took part.
There are too many wonderful people to mention here, but I certainly enjoyed being part of the Suffolk SoBS group, very noticeable in our T-Shirts. I enjoyed meeting survivors I had not met before and chatting with the many people that I did know – you are all a great bunch of people and did amazing on the day.
The other plus side is we all raised a significant amount of money which is brilliant.
A massive special thanks of course to Suzy for organising transport and keeping us in one piece on the day.
Apologies to Katie who had to endure sitting next to me on the coach – both ways!!
Here is to next years walk.
May 5th 2018
Norwich Cathedral Service for Survivors
On Saturday 5 May, 12 survivors travelled from Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich to Norwich Cathedral for the annual service for those who have been bereaved by suicide. They were joined at the cathedral by other survivors who had travelled independently from Essex, Huntingdon, Suffolk and Norfolk.
Four survivors (Freda, Jo, Lara & Paul) were invited to carry four candles, each highlighting significant aspects of their journeys. These candles were placed at the front and remain lit during the service.
After the first song, Anne from the Ipswich group read Bishop Brent’s famous words “The Ship.” There followed a personal testimony from someone who had unsuccessfully tried to take his own life and although some questioned the appropriateness of this, it was felt that he was trying to give out a positive message about the good that can be found in life. After a further hymn, there was a reading by HM Coroner, Jacqueline Lake, and a reflection by Reverend Canon Chris Copsey, Chaplain of the Coroner’s Office. Gentle solo performances of Lloyd Webber’s “Pie Jesu” and Rutter’s “The Lord bless you and keep you” gave further opportunities for quiet reflection and contemplation, which were much appreciated by everyone.
The well-organised service was very emotional, giving survivors a chance to remember their loved one, reflect on their memories and honour them by each placing a lighted candle in rows in front of the Book of Remembrance, in which survivors later had the opportunity to write about their loved ones. Everyone was given a candle to take home and urged to light it when periods of emotional darkness descended on them.
After the service survivors enjoyed each other’s company over tea, coffee and biscuits, and then 18 survivors went to the Marsh Harrier, a delightful pub just south of Norwich. There was much camaraderie over some delicious food and drink, with most diners being very grateful that someone else was driving them home! The general consensus was that it was a very enjoyable, albeit emotional, day and the hope was that more would be able to join us next year.
April 14th 2018
Our Web Hosting Company, HostPresto, Donates Free Web Hosting
HostPresto Supports us by Providing Free Web Hosting
On behalf of all survivors, I would like to send a big ‘Thank You’ to everybody at HostPresto for their very generous offer of free Web hosting for this site. The money saved will allow us to continue to provide support to all of those bereaved by suicide in Suffolk.
Older News Archive articles may be found here