The Bereavement Group established by Crowborough’s independent funeral director, Tester & Jones, celebrated its tenth anniversary with an afternoon tea at Barnsgate Manor.
The anniversary was marked with the planting of a red maple tree ‘Autumn Blaze’ in the grounds of Barnsgate Manor by the Mayor of Crowborough Cllr Greg Rose.
Glenys Jones, co-founder of Tester & Jones said:
We wanted to mark the occasion in a special way and it seemed appropriate to plant the tree at Barnsgate Manor, as the team there has been a huge support to our Group over the years, providing the location for our monthly get-togethers.
When Glenys and co-founder, Stephen Tester, launched Tester & Jones in 2004, they wanted families to know that the door was always open for them and that they could pop in after a funeral for a cup of tea and chat.
Over time, we felt that we could be doing more to support our families. Ten years ago, along with the help of Sue Carswell, who is a trained counsellor, we launched our Bereavement Group.
In addition to the monthly meetings – of which there have been more than 120 over the past decade – members also get together for theatre trips and days out.
Some lovely friendships have developed. They comfort each other and offer support at times when it’s needed. Some members have gone on holiday together, while others have accompanied members to hospital appointments, for instance.
Brenda Smart, who has been attending the Bereavement Group for more than five years, explained how it helps people:
If it wasn’t for the Bereavement Group, there are some members who possibly might not go out socially, so it’s fantastic that Tester & Jones launched this service. I think we’ve all become a little stronger, more independent and more confident as a result of the group.
Before the tree was planted, Sue Carswell said:
In many ways, this is the worst possible group to have to join, but our members have brought each other love and comfort, and some incredible friendships have been formed over the years.
After planting the tree, Councillor Greg Rose, Mayor of Crowborough, said:
The Bereavement Group would not have happened without the hard work Glenys, Sue and Stephen have put in to make it such a success. This tree commemorates the many loved ones who have been lost over the years and the strong friendships made as a result of the Tester & Jones Bereavement Group. As this tree grows, so does the love and support which this wonderful group brings its members.
After the tree had been planted, members of the group were invited to add a little soil in memory of their loved one.