160 WAY members in Southampton

March 2019

Who would have thought that spending two days in the company of more than 160 young widows and widowers could be so much fun? Many of our members found themselves laughing the night away at our Annual Meeting and dinner dance in Southampton on 9-10 March.

Over the course of the two days, WAY members got the chance to learn Bollywood dancing, to make chocolates, to wine-taste, to fashion origami swans from paper and to meditate. And we got to catch up with all the latest news about WAY.

We also had the chance to hear the inspirational story of Siobhan McLaughlin and her lawyer Laura Banks, who won a landmark Supreme Court judgment last year that could have far-reaching impacts for widowed parents who weren’t married. We were delighted to offer Siobhan lifetime membership of WAY in recognition of her achievements. Read more
There really was something for everyone over the course of the weekend – organised with amazing attention to detail by WAY’s Chief Executive Rebecca Cooper and Membership Services Manager Colette Scarbrough-Jelfs.

One of the highlights was our very own Bollywood dance performance, led by WAY member Shallini Bhalla-Lucas from Just Jhoom – which saw WAY trustees strutting their stuff on the dance floor enthusiastically alongside dozens of fellow WAY members. Truly a moment that put a smile on people’s faces – dancers and audience alike! You can watch the video that captures the moment here...

We also handed out awards to two of our members:

  • Ed Spooner won this year's Mandy Burrow Memorial Award for his outstanding contribution as a WAY volunteer. 
  • And Aimée Claire who the Helen Bailey Award for best blog for her blog about life as a young unmarried widow: A Nameless Pain.
Thanks to these lovely folks who helped to make the weekend such a sweet success:
  • longtime WAY supporter Direct Life, who helped to make the afternoon breakout sessions possible
  • Virgin Trains, Clarins and Brittany Ferries who supported our raffle
  • Chocolate Craft in Hampshire who showed us how to make chocolate
  • Hambledon Wineries who gave us a wine tasting demonstration

Here's what some of our members had to say:

Alison: "Thank you WAY for organising a truly special event. I got so much from it - made new friends, gave me confidence, allowed me to listen and dance to all the music I have been avoiding through sadness – and above all gave me laughter! My feet are still throbbing, should have taken the heels off sooner. Everyone was super friendly and I loved meeting everyone that I spoke to and even danced with. It felt like a real family affair. I’m already looking forward to Scotland.”

Seth Williams: "Cannot recommend it enough. A bucket list thing to do for all members. Totally blown away by the complete wonderful open nature, emotion, support, love and trust building between strangers that are so connected through our own pain individually and made to feel part of a new beautiful family. Thank you WAY family."

Kimberley Gray: "I went on my own and came back having met so many beautiful people, who in spite of their tragic circumstances come together and find strength from one another. They know how to party, make everyone feel welcome and without doubt have been one of the biggest supports over the last 3.5 years."

David: "My first AGM and wasn't sure what to expect or how I would feel but delighted that I went. The welcome when you first arrived put you very much at ease and any concerns after that disappeared completely. I will be going next year come what may."

We’re pleased to announce that next year’s AGM will be heading north of the border to Scotland.

Photos by Julian Porter