Heather, Area Contact Volunteer

I joined WAY in 2011; after my husband (Chris) died of endocarditis at Christmas 2010 (he was born with a congenital heart defect and outlived his life expectancy by at least 20 years!). My parents found out about WAY from a leaflet they got from the hospital in London when Chris died. It took me a few months to be in a place to join and then a few more months to summon up the courage to attend my first event.

I attended my first event in the summer of 2011, a pub evening at the Yacht in Greenwich. I chose this event because I feel at home in pubs and am usually able to just walk into them (this is the one place I can do this)! I found the group quite easily and was amazed at how welcoming they all were. I felt like I belonged, and they got me and what I was going through. For the first time since my Chris died I felt understood and like I wasn’t some kind of freak!!! I cried and laughed all evening.

My second WAY event was a day trip to the Kent & East Sussex Railway and Bodiam Castle. One of my new found friends took me there as I don’t drive. It was at this event that I met a lady called Emma who eventually became one of my best friends (we have since been on holiday together twice).

When my dad died that October they all rallied round me and supported me through the added pain, which made a terrible event a little easier to cope with. One of the members even drove me to the hospital in London to see my dad the weekend before he died.

Unfortunately there was nobody running events in my local area so I had to go to London or Kent, but I and some of my new found friends wanted things more locally ,so I started arranging things – pub evenings or meals out in local restaurants. They were well attended and very enjoyable. Then someone suggested I became official, so I did in May 2012; and although I am no longer area contact, I am still volunteering – organising events etc.

I have made so many new friends through WAY, some of whom pass through on their way to the next part of their journey, but others who have come and stayed – I have met my new partner Ian and have made some truly wonderful friends (Faith, Emma, Anne, Stuart, Joanne, Bridget, Candi to name just a few) who always support me and I hope I give back to them in the same way.

WAY has been there in my darkest moments and held me together, so in my lightest times I want to give back and hope to be able to do for others what they have done for me.

So if anyone else is thinking about volunteering I say go for it. It is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done in my life.

If you would like to find out more about volunteering for WAY, please email Veronica here.