'Holding Dear' bereavement support group launches in Stone

Supporting members of the local community through loss.

Stone Funeralcare in Staffordshire recently launched its ‘Holding Dear’ bereavement group to support members of the local community through the loss of a loved one.

The group, which is initially running over five weeks, has now held two creative and uplifting evenings, to help after the death of someone close or to help bridge the gap left by loneliness. The sessions are scheduled to run for an hour, however, they rarely get away before 8.30pm, as often people want to chat.

The evenings are being hosted by our colleague Paul Evans, Funeral Arranger at Stone Funeralcare, and supported by an Independent Funeral Celebrant, Steve Game-Blackmoor and his wife who are also qualified councillors, alongside other local professionals.

On setting up the group Paul explained: “My wife an I arrived in Stone on our narrowboat about 4 years ago. We had sold our house and thought we would slow life down and enjoy some time together. Retirement didn't suit me so I got a job at the Co-op food store and very quickly noticed an awful lot of lonely people. Lots of people wanted to chat and in general be noticed. I have to say that this was a big surprise to me.

“On joining Funeralcare, I came across lots of clients who needed a great deal of support after the loss of a loved one. So I set about finding out what we could do, or what was available locally.

“I knew that a friendly ear and a cuppa would help in the short term, but its a 'sticking plaster' on the problem. I can do that part of it! However I understood that people needed more, so I contacted Steve and his wife who are qualified councillors.

“I discussed my thoughts and ideas, initially about developing a support group for lonely and bereaved people in our town and it quickly grew into a group we are calling 'Holding Dear'. Steve and his wife have committed to provide help and professional support. Jointly we have developed a programme of events that started on 3rd April for an initial five weeks."

At the first meeting, five members attended, and each member created a collage from magazines with items that reminded them of their loved one. The plan is to add to these as the weeks go by and eventually frame each one.

“The evening started slowly, as members were stepping ever so gently into the unknown, however by the end new friends were made and stories shared” added Paul. 

“Our members have told us that the meetings are helping, and of course having access to trained professional councillors is a great advantage. The councillors have all agreed to offer some one to one counselling sessions free of charge.” 

The 'Holding Dear' bereavement support group is being held at St Michael’s Church Hall in Stone every Tuesday at 6pm, for the next 3 weeks. For more information about attending the group, local residents should contact Paul at the funeral home on 01785 813 375.

If you're interested in joining a bereavement group in your area, speak with your local funeral home to see what's available, or see our information on bereavement support.

For further information contact

Sarah Pyatt

Press Officer

Claire Newmarch

PR Assistant