I found and joined WAY after I lost my wife, Helen, to ovarian cancer. We had been married for 15 years and she had given birth to our only child, Izzy, just a couple of weeks earlier. As much as I was lucky with the help and love I got from family and friends they were simply not able to offer the same support and understanding that those who have also suffered the loss of a partner can. I only wish I had found the charity sooner as it quickly became a beacon of light and an enormous support at that terribly difficult time.
I remember being so nervous as I approached my first meet-up for coffee with my local Area Contact but from the first minutes of that conversation I felt at ease and amongst friends. As a clueless father trying to cope with the demands of a toddler in a remote part of the Scottish Highlands the access to local events and the network of members through the website and chatrooms marked a major turning point for the better in my own life and experience of being widowed.
At time of writing my daughter is 12 and we have, in addition to the Highlands, lived in London and The Netherlands and returned last year to the UK and are settling, for good I hope, in Cheltenham. Throughout what has been an eventful 12 years WAY has always been there as a source of comfort and support when needed and I see my own part in the charity being more a provider of help and support to both members and to the charity. With that in mind I joined the Board of Trustees in 2017 and was appointed Chair the year after.
WAY Widowed and Young is an extraordinary charity that has grown from humble beginnings just over 20 years ago. Its members are both its reason for being and its strength. Everything I do for the charity that I am so proud to represent is done with the aim of helping and supporting all our members in whatever way that I can.
Finally I must add a personal note of thanks to Georgia Elms for her incredible hard work over such a long period in bringing WAY to where it is now and I can only repeat the same words that Georgia previously stated in her message:
I am very proud to work on behalf of members to broaden WAY’s network and influence and bring new hope to those who find themselves widowed and young.
Bill James (Chair of WAY)