My name is Graham and I decided that during Lent this year, instead of giving something up, I would take on a new challenge. Before I get on to that, let me tell you a bit about myself.
My first career was as an engineer in the Royal Air Force. While I was serving at the RAF College, just over 33 years ago, I was knocked off my motorcycle on my way to work (through no fault of my own I hasten to add!). The injuries I sustained were extensive and left me without the use of my right arm and, amongst other damage, my right ankle had to be locked into a right angle (ish!) and couldn’t be flexed.
It was a pretty dark time, especially for my wife, Chris, who was left to bring up 2 young children as well as master-minding the ongoing renovation of our 17th century cottage in Lincolnshire whilst I was in hospital for a period of some 6 months or so. In the early days of my time in hospital it was touch and go, not knowing whether I would pull through or not. But hope played a huge part for Chris and gave her the strength to keep going with the renovation, keeping up the hope of Sarah and Tim that their Dad would get better and travelling miles to visit me in hospital. Mine was the easy bit, being well looked after by some fabulous NHS doctors and nurses.
I did recover, albeit with some loss of function. For many years I was unable, or rather lacked the confidence, to run. Until hope emerged in the shape of Toby, a young man who became our personal trainer. Toby has worked with both Chris and I for some 3 years now and given me the hope and confidence to try running again. Over the past 18 months or so I have gradually built up that confidence and hope for the future and that’s what led me to my Lent/Easter challenge. Having turned 70 years of age this year I decided to run 70 kms during Lent and sought donations to raise money for “Hope after Suicide Loss”. I completed the 70 kms on Maundy Thursday then got carried away and extended the challenge over Easter weekend with a target of 100 kms. By the end of Easter Monday I had completed 101kms.
Thanks to the generosity of family and friends and many people from my home village, my church and others beside, as I write I’ve raised just over £1,700 so far (£2,000 with Gift Aid included) for “Hope after Suicide Loss”.
I really believe that, even in the darkest of times, there is always hope which is why it has been such a pleasure to complete this challenge and raise some additional funds for Hope to support the work they do to give hope to others.
HOPE’s Annual Walk 2020 (Suffolk)
Holly and Eva Walk for HOPE.
On the 10th October 2020 on a dry morning, myself and my daughter, Eva Percy set off from Felixstowe Ferry on our 10 mile sponsored walk along the seafront to Landguard Point, along to the Viewpoint Café and then returning to Felixstowe Ferry.
We made a good start at approximately 9.30 am and set our pace, after asking a helpful lady to take our photo to mark the occasion. Eva made several update videos, on her phone, of the walk as we went along, so the majority of the donators could see our progress. These updates made the walk fun and we made much humour as well as good chat as we walked along.
As we reached halfway at Landguard Point/the Viewpoint Café it started to rain but it was nothing torrential so it did not spoil the walk. We stopped at the Café for a toilet break and a snack which we ate near the Landguard Fort, sheltered from the wind.
We walked back via the Landguard Nature Reserve and a short way along the road, joining the seafront at Martello Park. The few aches and pains we had, started to make themselves known on the return part of the walk but nothing too bad until we were reaching the last few yards at Felixstowe Ferry. The rain had stopped by the time we’d reached Martello Park so we were very lucky with the weather.
We reached Felixstowe Ferry at 13.55 hrs and had walked 10.83 miles, with the lunch break taken out of the equation, the walk had taken us just under 4 hours at 3hrs 53 minutes, so we were rather pleased with ourselves, not bad seeing as it was our first 10-mile walk. Another helpful person took our photo to mark the occasion of our return.
HOPE’s Annual Walk 2020 (Norfolk)
Our walk started with immense excitement and plenty of determination, on a bright and sunny Sunday morning. We had a small, but close group:
Sarah, Dan, Charlene, Rachel, Amy, Pei, Alex and Kath and Ryan. We set off for our 10mile walk at 11 am knowing that we needed to be at The Ferry Boat pub in Surlingham by 1:30 pm. The pace was set. We knew there was a lovely pub lunch reward waiting for us halfway in. A perfect reward!
The views and sights along the way were beautiful. From lakes, woodlands, farmers field to rivers and marshes: how fortunate we were!
Dan had warned us things could get ‘a little hairy along the way’, but we didn’t expect that a decision at a fork in the road would lead to several of us unintentionally taking a paddle in the river and many pairs of wet shoes! Where was a hand-dryer when you needed one? Switched off due to COVID19! Thank goodness for spare pairs of socks.
We had made it to The Ferry Boat: a definite must if you are ever close by Norwich and would like a hearty and relaxing pub lunch by the river. After our lunch pit stop, drying shoes and eating pies and fish and chips, we were refuelled and ready for our return journey. There was no way we’d take that same route back. We weren’t to realise that that was going to be a big mistake.
After hopping over fence styles and enjoying the idyllic hilly fields, we came to a boggy boardwalk. Single file all the way and plenty of careful footsteps. We made it out, or so we thought. Unfortunately, the last member of our group had taken a tumble into the nettles. It was serious. A clearly broken ankle in a remote location was not what anyone had hoped for. After an hour and half of incredible bravery from Kath, the ambulance had found us and made its way down the farmer’s track. With two members of the group off to the hospital, and in a little shock, we all once again began the long road home.
We completed the walk around 6 pm and home we returned feeling very proud of ourselves. Proud of raising an incredible amount of money, for walking all that way and for how we all supported our friend in her time of need. You never know how capable you are until you have to be and sometimes you surprise yourself. I think we all did.
From the Norwich Hope Representation
PS. For Kath, the long road to recovery has just begun but she is doing well. We want to publicly share our love for her and send her our well wishes.
Fundraising during the Covid-19 Pandemic – Update
HOPE is entirely self-funded. Due to the Covid-19 restrictions on conducting face to face group meetings, our normal source of income has completely dried up.
During these difficult times, HOPE would like to acknowledge the continued support from Suffolk Community Foundation.
On behalf of all suicide survivors, HOPE would like to thank Suffolk Community Foundation and local people for providing funding which has allowed us to keep our heads above water and continue to provide peer-led support to suicide survivors in Suffolk.
Our GoFundMe campaign is still active, so please continue to help support us so that we may carry on delivering our important service. Visit our GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign or donate by clicking here.
We are following closely Government advice on keeping safe during the pandemic, and we will update this site when we have further information regarding how and when we can safely re-open our monthly survivor support meetings. Please keep checking back here for updates.
On Saturday 25 April Chris Copsey lit a candle and said prayers for all those who have died by suicide and for those bereaved by suicide. Survivors who would normally attend this annual service contacted Chris and asked her to mention their loved ones by name.
Many survivors lit their own candle at 3.30 pm which is when the Norwich Cathedral Service was scheduled to take place. We will all look forward to next year’s service, attending in person, drawing comfort from the sermon, and lighting our own candles to represent the person we have loved and lost.
27th Mar 2020 – Suffolk High Sheriff Awards 2020
Sadly, HOPE missed out on the Suffolk High Sheriff ‘Road to Recovery’ Award for 2020, having been nominated by survivors Anne Maxwell and Martin Worswick.
This year, due to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) self-isolation lockdown, the event was broadcast live from Radio Suffolk after the planned event at Whepstead Park was cancelled. Representatives from organisations shortlisted were asked to be available by telephone between the hours of 7.00 pm – 8.30 pm on the evening of Thursday, March 26th
Given that HOPE has only been active just over a year, I think it is no mean achievement that HOPE was shortlisted and Suzy Clifford’s personal contribution has not gone unnoticed by the judging panel. Being nominated and shortlisted will have raised awareness of HOPE’s important role in supporting Suffolk survivors.
11th Dec 2019 – HOPE Granted its Charity Status by The Charity Commission
Suzy Clifford, (HOPE CEO), describes the granting of its charity status to Hope After Suicide Loss as “Fabulous news!”
In less than 10 months since HOPE’s launch, The Charity Commission has granted its charity status.
In the announcement to survivors, Suzy states:- “I’m sure you will all agree this is very good news for the future of our organisation.”
This follows on after a very successful ‘meet and greet’ event held on October 16th at the Lounge Cafe in Bury St Edmunds. An advent which gave Suffolk survivors the opportunity to meet and talk face-to-face with directors and the chairman of HOPE. Survivors were able to ask questions regarding the service provided and give feedback on that service, hopefully resulting in grassroots survivors feeling that they have input into the peer-led organisation and that their concerns are listened to.
9th Dec 2019 – HOPE Nominated by Suffolk’s Chief Constable
The Chief Constable of Suffolk, Steve Jupp, has kindly nominated HOPE at the Emergency Services Carol Service held at St Edmundsbury Cathedral.
Suzy and 14 HOPE survivors were in attendance at Bury St Edmund’s packed cathedral with Suzy reporting “the Cathedral was bursting at the seams, with the added bonus of listening to the Stowmarket Salvation Army and a sterling performance from the Suffolk Rock Choir. Both of which guaranteed the night’s success.”
Oct 2019 – Letter to the EADT
Martin recently wrote to the EADT (East Anglian Daily Times) promoting his experience of support from HOPE. This is what Martin has to say …
Thanks for your backing
Sir, – I’d like to thank the EADT for their recent coverage of a Suffolk charity that I and many others have benefitted from enormously.
You ran a feature on Suzy Clifford, the HOPE After Suicide Loss founder last month, and I’d like to further promote and support the amazing work Suzy and the charity does.
I lost my mum to suicide in 1983 when I was nine and my brother 11. My dad put an invisible protective shield around us and we never spoke about her for 35 years. I’ve revisited her death in recent years and the pain of 30 plus years of pent up grief has spilled out.
Although my grief is not as raw as that experienced by those who have lost a loved one in recent times. The nature of the HOPE meetings is that I find it the only place in the world and the only time in my life (apart from at home with my loving and supportive wife), that I can talk about my mum and the way she chose to die.
At HOPE meetings, as well as experiencing the shared pain and unique nature of losing a loved one to suicide, a safe, lovely and bonding environment is created too. It is a club that no one wants to be part of, but one you can benefit so much from, if you sadly are.
Martin Worswick, Ipswich
29th Sep 2019 – HOPE’s First Fundraising Walk
On Sunday 29th September, I arrived at Bury St Edmunds Ram Meadow car park with my pillow in hand, being met by a smiling Suzy. Although it was 6.30 am on a cold, dark, windy and rainy morning we were determined to succeed with our challenge. Our next stop was to collect 5 fellow survivors in Ipswich, a little more company for Suzy and I, as we continued with our journey to Norwich.
At 8.30 am we arrived in Norwich, after a bit of navigating we found Chapelfield where we were met by a further 12 survivors, in total 19. We then all proudly wore our beautifully designed Hope T-Shirts.
The group then congregated on the steps of the Norwich City Council building, a great photo opportunity before our walk commenced. With our maps in hand, slightly confused about how we were going to follow the route around Norwich, it was decided best for “the teacher” & husband to be our navigators. They led the way, followed by 17 adults and children. Although we started off in our waterproofs as we began to walk, we managed to shed our jackets and show our t-shirts with pride.
The walk was split into 3 different routes. Each time we finished a route, we congratulated ourselves with a refreshment. After route No. 2, we decided to take a break at Jarrolds to warm ourselves up with a nice cup of tea and piece of cake.
The walk took us around the beautiful sights of Norwich, along cobbled streets, past the famous Norwich Cathedral and the Castle. As we walked, we chatted about memories we shared of our loved ones we sadly lost through suicide, with Norwich being a place particularly close to my heart. This was a perfect place to honour my mum’s memory.
During our walk, we were approached by people interested to understand our charity and the purpose of the walk. If we helped just one further survivor by completing the walk it would be all worthwhile. It was a great way to spread the message about Hope.
We finished our walk in around 3 ½ hours, with a total of 8 miles (well according to my pedometer which we decided was definitely the most accurate).
I had a nice little rest on the bus journey back, my pillow definitely came in handy. Monday 30th September let’s say I was a little sore.
In 2020 we plan to continue the tradition to walk in Norwich, hopefully being led by “The Teacher” and husband once again. We will look to complete this in May, with more luck the weather will be on our side.
As I have mentioned before the walk is divided up into 3 smaller routes. Next year we may split into groups, one being the “hardcore speed walkers” who may choose to complete a longer route and the other “leisurely walkers”. You can then walk for as long or as short as you would like to.
We welcome everyone, please do bring your families. Let’s try and make it 40 people next year.
14th July 2019 – Cate’s Fundraiser for HOPE
Cate, a survivor bereaved by suicide and attending group support at Lowestoft delivered by Hope After Suicide Loss, raised a large amount of money in memory of her husband who took his own life in 2017.
On Sunday 14th July, morning coffee, light lunches and afternoon teas were served to family and friends.
A raffle was also held with Hughes Electrical, Next, Sgt Peppers and family and friends donating gifts.
23rd July & 27th August 2019 – Survivors Speak with Rob Dunger from Felixstowe Radio
On the 23rd July, three HOPE survivors talked with Rob Dunger from Felixstowe Radio on many suicide-related subjects. (Click on the play button below to listen to an edit of the show).
Following on from the last visit, on the 27th August, three more HOPE survivors appeared on the Rob Dunger show at Felixstowe Radio. Felixstowe Radio have kindly uploaded the radio show to Mixcloud. Click here to listen to the programme.
The community radio station will also be airing HOPE’s advertisement for one month.
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 organiser’s tent ready to count and score laps.
Due to weather and a clash with father’s day, there were fewer riders than hoped for. But that said we all had a great time.
The course was 5 and a 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 6 pm 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 6 am 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 2 pm 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.
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.
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