Gosport picnic on International Suicide Prevention Day to provide support for people who have lost a loved-one

A PICNIC on International Suicide Prevention Day will be open to anyone who has experienced suicide loss.

Friday, 30th August 2019, 3:44 pm
Updated Sunday, 1st September 2019, 5:11 pm
Anna Wardley, right, with Tina Barrett, director of the Tamarack Grief Resource Center, and the founder of A Camp to Remember

Gosport swimmer Anna Wardley is organising a friendly and informal Solent Dip and Pot Luck Picnic at Stokes Bay outside Pebbles Wine Bar on Tuesday, September 10, from 6pm.

Anna, whose dad died by suicide when she was nine, said: ‘I’d like to extend an invite to anyone who has experienced suicide loss, and those who would like to join us to show their support.’

The 43-year-old has been travelling across America to learn about support for children who have experienced parental suicide as part of her work for the Churchill Fellowship with Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.

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Middle Earth Girls, the group which Anna was volunteering with at A Camp to Remember

After taking on a mammoth 33-km swim of the Catalina Channel, Anna volunteered at A Camp to Remember in Montana, an annual grief camp providing bereaved youth with opportunities to have fun and to be with others who understand.

The four-day camp saw 54 young people aged between seven and 18 taking part, many of whom had lost a parent to suicide as Montana has the highest suicide rate in the USA.

Anna said: ‘It’s been a highlight of my Churchill Fellowship so far, being part of the amazing team creating this special camp where children have the opportunity to express their grief and support each other against the backdrop of the stunning natural beauty of Flathead Lake.

‘It was intense and rewarding in equal measures, and I came away bursting with ideas and inspiration to bring back to the UK about how we can improve how we care for children after suicide loss.’

Anna, second left, with the CARE team for a group of 11 girls aged between 12 and 14 in a lakefront bunkhouse at A Camp to Remember

Each day is designed around arts and crafts, games, waterfront activities and quiet time, culminating in songs around a lakeside campfire.

Anna said the camp was best summed up by a camper’s own words: ‘When I first went to camp, I was scared because I had only lost my mother to suicide five months prior, but by the end of the week I had learned that even though grief sucks, it is going to be okay.’

The camp is run by Tamarack Grief Resource Center, one of three organisations Anna has visited in the USA as part of her research.