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Volunteer Ceril Thornton

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Volunteers’ Week 2022: Ceril

As the Hospice’s Bereavement Café gets set to restart on Wednesday, 8 June, volunteer Ceril Thornton shares some of her experiences as a volunteer and her excitement at the café’s return: 

I joined the Hospice Volunteers about seven years ago. Soon after retiring, I decided I wanted to volunteer but not sure what I wanted to do until I saw an advert in the Suffolk Free Press asking people to come forward to join a training team at the Hospice from Family Support (now Psychological Services Team) to support those who had been bereaved.

I applied but having been in Sales most of my working life was not sure I would be considered, but I felt it was such a worthwhile thing to do. I went for an interview and was delighted to be offered a place on the six-week course, which was incredibly interesting and afterwards, I was offered a chance to join the team.

It was very fulfilling helping clients through their grief, and when one of the Practitioners asked me if I would be willing to help with a Bereavement Café she wanted to set up, I immediately agreed as I thought it was a brilliant idea.

It was wonderful to see the Café build up and up, and in no time, we had between 30-35 people coming to our sessions until Covid, and it had to come to an abrupt end.

As a Volunteer, we were there to facilitate people and introduce them to the group. Often someone would arrive very anxious and distressed, so we always spoke to them and found out about the circumstances of their Bereavement, then introduced them to a group member and within a short time and a coffee, they would relax.

Relationships built up within the group, and a large number soon went off for lunch, others to the cinema, and two ladies went on coach trips together, and they supported each other.

Since Covid, I have supported clients on the phone, but it will be so good to get back to face-to-face contact. Being able to share the news that the Café is returning is wonderful. Someone who came regularly had phoned me several times to see if there was news of its return and was delighted when I told her a date had been set for June 8th.

I am excited to get back to this part of my role, and I am sure we will see some old faces return, plus many new ones who will find the Café a great source of support.

I find being a volunteer so rewarding. To help someone in some small way to pick themselves up after being bereaved is quite humbling.

I am so pleased the Bereavement Café is returning and very excited to be getting back to it as it is such a worthwhile thing to be involved in.

Following its first session on June 8, the Bereavement Café will take place every Wednesday from 10am to midday at The Apex, in Charter Square, Bury St Edmunds. You don’t need to book in advance. Please just come along. 

You can find out more about the Bereavement Café by clicking here.