My Lunch with Gary Barlow

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Julia Periac tells us about her day to remember and a fantastic, noteworthy cause – Child Bereavement UK.

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The function room at the Hilton was filled with twinkling lights, tables were covered with crisp white linen, ladies dressed in their finery sipped on champagne and the room was filled with celebrities and influential business women from across the region, all a-buzz with anticipation…

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On Thursday 10th November I had the pleasure of receiving an invite to a fabulous, red carpet lunch at the Hilton on Deansgate in Manchester. The event was attended by 450 guests – including stars of ITV’s The Real Housewives of Cheshire, Seema Malhotra and Stacey Forsey, and Peter Kay’s co-star Sian Gibson from the hilarious BBC comedy Car Share.

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The Real Housewives of Cheshire Seema & Stacey
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Julia & her sister Lucinda

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All had gathered to show their support and raise awareness for Child Bereavement UK. The charity, which provides vital support for bereaved children and parents who have lost a child, had chosen this special lunch to announce that singer and song-writing legend Gary Barlow was joining HRH The Duke of Cambridge and GBBO national treasure Mary Berry in becoming a Patron. Tragically, Gary and his wife Dawn’s baby daughter, Poppy, was still born on 4th August 2012. Since then the couple have chosen to support Child Bereavement UK with Gary performing at the charity’s 21st birthday celebration in October 2015, at Banqueting House in London.

The event at the Hilton commenced with an inspirational and informative talk from Child Bereavement UK’s Chief Executive, Ann Chalmers.

We heard of the plethora of support services being provided for bereaved children and parents here in Cheshire and right across the UK. Following a beautiful lunch, TV breakfast show host Eamon Holmes hosted an insightful and charming interview with the ever-humble Gary Barlow. On becoming a Patron for this great cause Gary said:

“I am delighted to help to raise the profile of Child Bereavement UK, a wonderful charity that provides vital support to bereaved families. Becoming a Patron is my way of saying thanks for all the help Child Bereavement UK has given us and many other families going through the pain of bereavement.”

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Goodie bag in hand, I left the event last Thursday inspired to spread the word of the fantastic work being carried out by Child Bereavement UK and the vital demand that exists for their services. Though I am fortunate to be blessed with the good health of my two beautiful children, I found myself deeply moved by the cause of this organisation. I have a number of close friends and family members who lost a parent during their childhood and my own Mum died just as I was entering adulthood.

As a parent, when I contemplate my own mortality my first thought goes to the welfare of my children. If something were to happen to me would they be ok? Who would support them and care for their emotional well-being? In the past bereavement support services were not widely available, though I myself relied upon them for support in the darkest days following my Mum’s untimely death. As uncomfortable as it is to think about or write about this subject, the reality is that it is not at all as uncommon as we would like it to be. I was staggered to find out that 1 in 20 children in the UK are coping with bereavement, having lost a parent or sibling. This equates to more than one child in every classroom. Not only do some children require support from bereavement services to help them manage their grief, but professionals and schools require guidance and education to equip them to support children and families who are at their most vulnerable.

Child Bereavement UK provides a national telephone helpline, a vast array of bereavement support services here in Cheshire and throughout the UK, as well as training and information for professionals and schools. In addition to supporting children and families who have lost a parent, the charity provides support for families like Dawn and Gary’s, who have lost a child as a result of miscarriage, stillbirth, illness, accident or suicide.

Ladies, we are all parents, grandparents, aunties and friends… this issue will have touched us all in some way or could do at any time. Help me to share the fantastic work being done by this great charity so that we can play a small part in ensuring that these services are there for any child, parent or family member who might need to call upon them one day.

If you are interested in finding out more about Child Bereavement UK or would like to donate or help with fundraising please get in touch with Fundraising and Communications Manager for the North of England, Sebastian Farrell on 01928573539 or email [email protected]

www.childbereavementuk.org

Helpline: 0800 02 888 40

Twitter: @cbukhelp #GaryBarlowlunch

Follow on Facebook: Child Bereavement UK

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