Whilst working in Public Health in 2018, I was asked to scope a local community programme to build a Compassionate Community, within a rural ageing community in East Suffolk. The programme involved supporting local volunteers to train with Living Well Dying Well in order to operate as Compassionate Companions or Doulas. In doing so I was fortunate enough to train to diploma level too and be inspired by some wonderful people locally, nationally and internationally to become part of the most compassionate network of End of Life Doulas. I have been putting into practice those skills and that knowledge as part of the NHS led Suffolk programme, but also in my other role as a trained funeral celebrant, working with families at a time of loss.
I listen in a non- judgemental way, I hold space, and provide support emotionally and practically, gently walking alongside at times of need. Working within community development and the NHS, I understand how complicated the system can be for others to navigate and I find ways to help people help each other, to signpost, and to access other support. But as a funeral celebrant, I know the importance of advance planning, understanding choice, expressing and recording wishes in relation to one’s end of life. I am committed to encouraging people to find ways to have conversations about death and dying.
My personal experiences of death within my own family have been varied, in fact starkly different. That is not unusual but I wish in hindsight that I had the same understanding of things then, as I do now.
I live by the river in Waldringfield, Suffolk with my husband and dog. Each morning I have the privilege of walking Poppy, playing ball on the beach and taking time to feel blessed and grateful for my world.