A GATHERING on Stokes Bay beach was held to honour loved ones who had died by suicide.
Held on World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, the supportive event saw 16 people share stories of family and friends they had lost and provide support for each other.
Gosport endurance swimmer Anna Wardley co-ordinated the event, following a few weeks in America researching support for children affected by suicide loss of a parent as part of the Churchill Fellowship.
Anna said: ‘It was a meaningful and poignant event, where we shared our experiences of suicide loss and remembered those we’ve lost to suicide.
‘People came from Gosport, Portsmouth and Eastleigh to attend the event which, for some of us, included a dip in the Solent as well as a pot-luck picnic.
‘One friend came to the event after attending the funeral of a close friend he lost to suicide last month on the same day, a grim reminder that our losses aren’t just in the distant past.’
Attendees included former director of Portsmouth Samaritans, Chris Trevellick, and his wife Gwen who have been long-term supporters of Anna’s work and her endurance swims to raise money for suicide-related charities including the Samaritans.
Sarah Taylor, senior public health practitioner at Hampshire County Council, who is setting up a bureau of people with lived experience of suicide to explore how best to learn from their skills and experience, also attended.
Anna said: ‘It was great to chat to Sarah at the event at Stokes Bay to find out how I can share what I’m learning on my Churchill Fellowship travels, by presenting about the best practice in Australia, Denmark and the USA, in order to improve the provision of support for children after parental suicide here in Hampshire.’
People attending the event placed photographs of their loved ones on a special quilt of remembrance which was decorated with candles and flowers.
The handmade quilt was given to Anna at A Camp to Remember at Flathead Lake in Montana last month, a youth grief camp where she volunteered as part of her research.