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Bereavement Group Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Photo of the following four people stood by the red maple tree: Stephen Tester, co-founder of Tester & Jones; Sue Carswell, Tester & Jones Bereavement Group; Councillor Greg Rose, Mayor of Crowborough; Glenys Jones, co-founder of Tester & Jones; and Gary Mitchell, Operations Manager, Barnsgate Manor.
From Left to Right: Stephen Tester, co-founder of Tester & Jones; Sue Carswell, Tester & Jones Bereavement Group; Councillor Greg Rose, Mayor of Crowborough; Glenys Jones, co-founder of Tester & Jones; and Gary Mitchell, Operations Manager, Barnsgate Manor.

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.

Commemorative plaque which reads:

"Planted on behalf of the TESTER AND JONES' BEREAVEMENT GROUP.  In loving memory of all those we have loved and lost.  Forever in our hearts."

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.

Glenys explained:

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.

Members of the Bereavement Group enjoying afternoon tea at Barnsgate Manor (including Brenda Smart, front right)
Members of the Bereavement Group enjoying afternoon tea at Barnsgate Manor (including Brenda Smart, front right)

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.

Afternoon Tea served at Barnsgate Manor.  Tiered cake stand showing a A selection of homemade miniature cakes.

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.

A member of the Bereavement Group adds soil to the tree.
A member of the Bereavement Group adds soil to the tree.

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