Celebrating WAY's Trustees this Trustees' Week

November 2021

This week is Trustees' Week and it's a chance to find out who WAY's Trustees are and get to know a bit more about them and the amazing work they help to do to make sure WAY runs smoothly. 

Thank you to every Trustee, past and present, who has helped, and continues to help, shape and govern the charity.

Please do click on the links below to hear interviews with our trustees, starting with a message from WAY's Volunteer Manager Veronica Currie and a chat between her and WAY's Chair Jo Sedley-Burke.

WAY Chair Jo Sedley-Burke

Mike's journey

We talk to Trustee Mike Etherington about his journey to becoming a Trustee for WAY and how he is putting his marketing skills to good use to help reach out to more young widowed poeple who could benefit from our charity's peer to peer support network.

Mike, can you tell us a little bit about your journey with WAY and what led you to become a Trustee?

My wife died, suddenly and unexpectedly on Remembrance Day in 2005, almost 16 years ago to the day! Our children were 4 and 6 at the time. I basically fell apart. Nothing prepares you for the death of someone you love. Work were very good and gave me time and space to try and work things out and our friends were very sympathetic but struggled to know how to deal with our new situation. This is when I discovered WAY. Feeling like the only widower in the world and quite alone, someone pointed me at the WAY website and I joined up. I discovered a whole new 'family' of fellow wids, who provided such a welcome and needed support structure that we started to cope better and to move forward again. Meeting folks who didn't feel awkward talking to us about death and loss and all that brings, was invaluable and helped us to survive our new journey.

Once my kids had grown up and started to leave home, I was keen to become a Trustee of WAY for a number of reasons. Firstly, having been through the loss of a partner and valued the help from being a WAY member, I wanted to help WAY to continue providing this support to others. Second I realised there were so many eligible widows in the UK who didn't know about WAY. I wanted to help to increase that reach and to bring the benefits to as many eligible people as possible. And finally after years of working in corporate land, I wanted to apply myself to something other than driving profit for some global corporation and to work on something a lot more meaningful. I was delighted to be invited to join the board last year.

What skills do you bring to your Trustee role and how do your skills help the charity?

Running a charity and running a business have a lot of similarities. From the "boring but important" bits of governance and process, to the marketing elements that help WAY to reach out to eligible members, partners and influencers, the strategy, process and the work is very similar. Having been part of the management team at IBM and Lenovo for a number of years, and running their marketing teams, it's exciting to see how the things I've learnt there over the years can apply really well to WAY. Helping the excellent team of Trustees to keep the Charity running well helps the members, volunteers and ambassadors to deliver the support where it's needed most.

Why do you choose to spend your time volunteering for WAY in this role?

Volunteering for WAY was a very easy decision to make. Job changes freed up some time and being able to spend that on WAY projects and knowing that you're helping to bring the peer-to-peer support to new members when they most need is really a no brainer. Having been there and knowing what newer members are going through provides a real incentive to get involved.

Trustee Mike Etherington

Louise Dodds

Stuart Scarbrough

Bill James

Graham Briscoe

Jacqueline's story

I’m Jacqueline and I have been a Trustee for WAY for a few years now.

My husband and I had been together for 26 years, married for 20 of those years. Today should have been our 30th wedding anniversary. 

We have one daughter. We met at work and as a result, we spent our lives together all the time. Then one day, the first Sunday of the London Olympic games, he collapsed. He had suffered a massive brain haemorrhage.

I muddled through for about a year before I was given details of the peer to peer support network WAY Widowed and Young.

WAY gave me the opportunity to meet other people outside my work environment and family. These people all had their own sad stories and, although from varied backgrounds, we all had that one thing in common ... we had been widowed young and therefore we all understood each other.

Although I am reserved, I felt comfortable with fellow members and able to talk, laugh, and cry in their company. Some of those members are now best friends.

After a couple of years, at the Cardiff AGM, I volunteered to become admin of WAY’s closed Facebook group. After four years of running the group, I decided I wanted to step down. I then had discussions with other members, and decided to volunteer as a Trustee. My experience with the Facebook group meant I knew many members, even if we had only met online. I was a mum of a very old teenager, and I was a very organised civil servant. I hope I bring my experiences as a working mum to the diversity of the Board.

I received a huge amount of support from other WAY members in my early years, and it is only right that I pass that support on. I have seen members arrive, broken and lost, including myself. Over time those members are able, with support from fellow members, get up and slowly start their new lives again. It’s good to be involved with that peer to peer support network.

Jacqueline Dewdney