Supporting other bereaved families
447. Louise Woodbridge
448. Paul Woodbridge
Paul and Louise Woodbridge have raised funds and awareness for the bereavement charity that supported them through the tragic death of their young twins.
They were presented with the award by Samantha Cameron at a Downing Street reception for Child Bereavement UK.
Paul and Louise’s two-year-old twins William and Betsy were killed when a chest of drawers they were playing on fell on top of them at their home in Berkshire. The couple found that despite the support of their family and friends, the specialised support and expertise they received from Child Bereavement UK was a lifeline in the months and years following the accident.
The couple decided they wanted to give something back to the charity and in 2006 they became patrons so they could help other families, in which a parent or child has died, to find the support they need. They commissioned a rose in memory of Betsy and William and were the driving force behind the development of the charity’s bereavement awareness campaign for primary schools, Elephant’s Tea Party. Louise Woodbridge said: “We know from when our children went back to school after their brother and sister had died, what a huge difference the sensitive support of friends and teachers could make. We wanted Elephant’s Tea Party to help schools talk about the often difficult subject of death in a normal way, so that everyone has a better idea of what to say and do when someone is grieving.”
Louise and Paul have spoken at various conferences and training events to help professionals understand the needs of grieving families, and have also undertaken a number of fundraising challenges, including a London to Paris bicycle ride in 2012 in which they persuaded 28 friends to join them in raising over £80,000. Their relatives have also been inspired to raise funds and awareness for Child Bereavement UK, with Louise’s parents and brother all organising events in support of the charity including a St. George’s Day shoot and regular Memorial Days where families can get together to plant bulbs in memory of someone special who has died.
Child Bereavement UK’s guests at Downing Street also heard from one of the charity’s other parents who has gone on to support the charity after receiving its help after losing a child. Emily Arch realised that employers and colleagues of bereaved parents also need advice on how to support them when they return to work. She has given dozens of talks at workplaces and events and recorded a video for the charity using her own experiences after the death of her baby to offer guidance to others.
Prime Minister David Cameron said:
“Louise and Paul have shown remarkable strength in wanting to give something back to the charity that supported them after the death of their twins Betsy and William. They have inspired many of their family and friends to join in their fundraising, and the money and awareness they have raised will help Child Bereavement UK support other parents in their darkest hours. I am pleased to be able to recognise Louise and Paul as Points of Light.”
Paul & Louise said:
“We are simply overwhelmed to receive this very special award from the Prime Minister. We remain truly humbled to work alongside such an amazing charity that gives so much vital support to so many bereaved families. Child Bereavement UK became our lifeline when our beloved children Betsy and William were killed, making our survival possible through our grief. We feel it is so important to try and give back in anyway possible to CBUK who quite simply helped to save our lives and gave us the coping skills to continue on our journey.”