December 2012 - The Compassionate Friends Australia
THE COMPASSIONATE FRIENDS
National newsletter December 2012
To all TCF Chapter Bodies in Australia.
Welcome to this the first newsletter of TCF Australia.
Margot McAllister (TCF Mandurah) who has recently been appointed a Director of TCF Australia, has been appointed as the
Editor of our Magazine, which will be published twice yearly.
The Directors of TCF Australia hope that by having a National Body in operation, communication, education and awareness of
issues involving all TCF chapters can be improved. Our aim is to work with you and you with us, to make decisions for the
betterment of TCF Australia, bereaved parents and their families.
We do not seek any financial support from TCF Chapters, but as projects of importance are agreed upon, funding will be
sourced from external bodies and applied for as part of a consortium approach. TCF Australia does not have any DGR status and
any financial transactions could be managed through one of the states chapters.
At this stage, our initial focus will be PR and the resumption of the national newsletter.
We will be having a board meeting in November to discuss, "Where to from here" and will be communicating with each TCF
chapter after this meeting. Comments are welcome at any time and I can be contacted by email at
[email protected] or Mobile phone 0413373539.
"We Need Not Walk Alone"
Introduction of editor
P2 to 6
World Wide Candle Lighting
P8 & 9
P10 & 11
5th International Gathering
John Hurley, President, TCF Australia (father of Anthony)
Welcome and Introduction of editor
It’s a pleasure to bring you this issue of the TCF Australia national newsletter.
We all work hard in our own region for TCF and it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that we are
part of a huge international organization. We can support each other by the sharing of information ,resources, assistance and knowledge acquired through our various experiences. The
willingness to share and support began with the original establishment of TCF in 1969 and is
the main reason why TCF now successfully operates in over 30 countries worldwide.
When my friend Eva Lager first began to produce a national newsletter years ago I had no
idea that in 2012 I would follow in her footsteps. Just as we share the one aim in TCF but
achieve it in different ways, so too my style as editor will differ to those of previous editors
but I hope to do justice to the role and welcome your input.
I first contacted TCF after the death by suicide of my son Kevin in July 1986. In August 1987
I became a committee member, facilitated the first support group for those bereaved by suicide
and became a telephone contact. I was TCF WA President in 1990 and 1991, hosting the first
TCF National Australian gathering in 1991. I continued in a variety of roles till my retirement
to Mandurah late1999. In 2000 we recommenced support groups in the area. In May 2000 I
became a bereaved grandparent with the death of my grandson Jackson by SIDS.
In May 2001 we were asked by the TCF WA President to set up a base to respond to the many
bereaved parents in the south-west region of WA and in October 2001 we leased an office in
Mandurah Lotteries House. TCF Mandurah was officially launched in February 2002. I was
President for the first seven years and am now the PR Manager. In 2004 we obtained our own
ABN, constitution, Incorporation, DGR status, became a registered charity and started our own
newsletter of which I am editor. TCF WA paid for our first years rent but apart from that we
have been totally self funded.
I paid my own way to the TCF International Gatherings in Sydney & Vancouver and attended
the recent gathering in Costa Mesa with the help of TCF Mandurah fundraising. I presented a
workshop on the grief of grandparents to the last two. I cannot envision a time when I will not
be involved in some way with TCF. Like many others I am always amazed at the love, courage and support of bereaved parents and do what I do to repay the support I received and to
honour the memory of my son and grandson.
Margot McAllister, Editor (mother of Kevin, nana of Jackson)
Interstate News (in alphabetical order)
TCF ACT& Queanbeyan
How gratifying to see the re-emergence of the National Newsletter. Many thanks to Margot for agreeing to get us on the road
again. And let’s remember Eva Lager, also from WA, who for many years produced the newsletter single-handed.
December will see our end-of-year breakfast at the Southern Cross Yacht Club on the first Sunday of the month. It’s probably
the most well attended event of the year – so nice and relaxed looking out onto Lake Burley Griffin in the company of good
friends. We always have a raffle – first prize a Cordon Bleu Christmas cake made by one of our members. Over the years the
number of prizes has increased so that somehow there is now a gift large or small for everyone.
Next is our Christmas sharing meeting. After the usual format of each person having a chance to share their thoughts and perhaps saying how they are going to ‘manage’ Christmas, we have some special activities which have become an expected part of
the evening. Firstly a big basket goes around the circle and each person puts in a gift for a child, to be distributed by the Salvation Army. Often we choose something that our own child would have liked – in any event it can be quite meaningful. Then
something to take home for ourselves – each of us brings a Christmas card and these are spread out on a table. We each choose
one – and it is surprising how often we can find one which has a special connotation for us – we may write a message, either to
or from our child – or leave it blank. We usually finish with candles and a few quiet moments. Then of course a festive supper.
The following weekend will be the Candle lighting ceremony shared by all of us around Australia – and the world. Ours is
always held at our children’s memorial seat by the lake in Weston Park. However last year there was a terrible storm and it was
rained out, so this time if the weather is bad we will meet at the Community Centre where we hold our monthly meetings.
In the last few years, although we have continued to offer monthly evening sharing meetings, morning coffee gatherings have
become a popular part of the calendar – alternating locations between north and south Canberra.
A new project for us is setting up a website. This may take a little time as we ask our members for their input – but look out for it
An issue that we may ask the National Body for advice about is TCF ACT & Qbn’s unsuccessful request for charity status – so
puzzling when other branches have had this for years. It has meant that seeking donations from the community has largely been
Very best wishes to all other branches – how comforting to be connected in this way again
Maxine (mother of Christopher) and Sue (mother of Anthony)
Our tenth anniversary was celebrated with a lunch at the Meadow Springs Golf Club on Tuesday 28 February. This gave us the
opportunity to express our appreciation to our supporters, sponsors, local media, politicians and past and present volunteers. Our
history book “The First Ten Years” compiled by Ailsa Rice, was launched. The book is now an important, accurate record of
these years. Three of the original five volunteers are still involved & were recognized. Its pleasing to see that we now have over
30 volunteers in a variety of roles. The Peel Volunteer Centre refers volunteers to us who perform administrative tasks and we
currently have our treasurer, newsletter co-editor and two office assistants who are not bereaved parents but provide valuable
assistance. We continue to follow our policy of training volunteers who are bereaved parents of more than two years to fill the
roles which involve contact with the bereaved and have provided two training courses this year.
Five more business sponsors were welcomed to our seventh annual “Walk to Remember” which was held in March. This has
become a recognized community event. Our National Awareness campaign which we hold in June was extremely successful
with displays in 3 major shopping centers and in five libraries plus items in local newspapers and three radio stations. We view
this as one of our most important ways to increase community awareness of our services. There has been increased involvement
with police, schools, health agencies and G.P.s. Our sibling DVD is still very much in demand, both locally and nationally.
Donations and fundraising have been sufficient to cover administrative and service provision costs in our first ten years with no
regular funding. At the end of 2011 we received a major grant from PEACH of ALCOA which refurbished our offices. The volunteers are now working in pleasant surroundings with custom built furniture and our storage cupboards are a vast improvement
on the second hand items that we started off with. There are regular raffles run for us during the year by a mother/daughter team
and a husband/wife team and our sales of chocolates and TCF sales items keep a steady inflow of funds. A successful fundraiser
was conducted in Bunbury and the funds raised are being used in that region.
A Mandurah quarterly coffee morning was introduced. Support groups and coffee mornings were held in Rockingham, Mandurah, Bunbury, Busselton and Dunsborough. We fundraised to cover the cost of airfares to send Carolyn Lee & I to the Fifth
TCF International gathering in Costa Mesa. I presented a workshop on Grandparents Grief which went well and the whole experience was very rewarding, interesting and enjoyable with a number of positive outcomes.
We nominated our president, Gary Withers for a volunteer award which he received on International Volunteers Day.
Participation in community events helps to raise our profile and this past year we were involved in the Roadwise campaign, the
Peel Mental Health Week Expo and the Zonta International Womens Day event.
Recently we established a Facebook page. Our web site is down at the moment and we are currently looking at changing it.
Margot McAllister, P.R. Manager
Mother of Kevin , nana of Jackson
TCFNSW held their 2012 Residential Weekend Sept 15/16 at Mary MacKillop Place, North Sydney. The facilitators
for the weekend were the Bereavement Care Team at Calvary Hospital, Kogarah NSW. Also speaking at the weekend were three bereaved parents, Lewis, a professional psychologist, Gary, founder of Pillars of Strength &
Shephard Centre’s Father of the year 2012, and Therese who wrote a book about her experience. We held a candle
lighting memorial service on the Sunday morning. The silent auction, our main fundraising event, had three tables full
of new and handmade goods, was successful. Next Year the Residential Weekend for TCF NSW will be September
21/22 near Canberra.
We are now employing an office support person 14 hours per week. Volunteers are not always available to be in the
office and Julie, who is a member of TCF, is employed to be there Tuesdays and Fridays.
No chapter has closed in NSW this year and one new non –metropolitan chapter has begun. Another chapter on the
far south coast is planning to start in 2013.
TCF NSW has moved offices; we are still at 32 York Street, Sydney and are now in Room 802. The office is smaller,
so much sorting and culling had to be done. The savings in rent is considerable. One of our dads gave up a Saturday
to paint the walls a bright yellow. The phone number, fax number and email addresses remain unchanged.
Hello to all the other national TCF Chapters, we hope your chapters are all coping as well as you can.
As you have all probably seen on TV or in the newspaper there is the big shake up in the Qld Health Department with Mr
Laurence Springborg announcing shortly after being elected back in March 2012 that he was going to go through the not-forprofit funding ‘WITH A FINE TOOTH COMB”. Queensland Health was in a very poor financial position in regard to the
payroll system debacle and the fake Tahitian prince ripping off $16 million dollars. The consequence of this has been that all not
-for-profits have been sitting on pins and needles for months not knowing if their funding was going to be withdrawn, reduced or
cancelled when we renew our Service Agreement with them in June 2013. Our anticipation has ended we have been advised on
Friday the 26th October that we will lose 5% of our funding (a lot to us) but under the circumstances we are counting our
blessings that is all we lost, so we can continue to provide our services to the bereaved parents throughout Queensland along
with hard fundraising. We will just have to wait and see what happens in June 2013 in regard to our Service Agreement with
This year as always has been very busy supporting bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings. We also still struggle to create
awareness due to limited resources in the area of volunteers and the staff being time poor due to the many other things we have
to do in our 20 hour week (plus another 20 voluntary). Our other big time consumer is fundraising, with jam stalls, sausage
sizzles mainly at Bunning’s and the new Masters store here in Qld.
TCF Qld also held their Annual Grief and Loss Seminar on the 16th June with 60 attending to listen to Trish Wilson give a
wonderful presentation and then followed it up with a very worthwhile workshop. We have found that when we have a Men
Only workshop it is very well attended as other than our monthly support meetings this is the only opportunity men have to share
with other men.
Karen our Newsletter Editor continues to produce a quality newsletter with very helpful information. We also held our Annual
Charity Golf Day on the 27th July which was a huge success with all of our sponsors on the day having a wonderful round of golf
and TCF raising much needed funds. Photos can be viewed on our website.
We continue to be ever so grateful to our wonderful volunteers who hold meetings on a regular basis and also our telephone listeners, without these volunteers we would struggle to provide the support that we do throughout Queensland. We had our AGM
in September and many of our committee members from last year stayed on and we also were pleased to have two new committee members come on board.
We look forward to reading all the news from other chapters when the National Newsletter arrives.
Joy Van Raalte, TCF Queensland Co-ordinator
(mother of Mark and Tanya)
The Compassionate Friends (South Australia) Inc (‘TCFA’) has completed yet another year of service to bereaved families.
It is a privilege for me to be involved in an organisation which has, at its heart, such terrific people as those who serve on the
committee and who make TCF’s functions happen on a daily and weekly basis, from monitoring our telephone support line,
through to conducting monthly support group meetings, producing and disseminating our newsletter, managing our Facebook
page, and organising our events such as our annual lunch gathering, our annual balloon release ceremony, our Christmas Candlelight Ceremony and our fundraisers.
These functions continue on month after month, year after year, despite the ongoing struggles which the TCF volunteers themselves have as fellow bereaved parents.
We always need more help, and of course the AGM is an ideal time for new volunteers to step forward and offer their services,
particularly by serving on our committee.
Fundraising continues to be a significant focus for the Committee. Although we do not, as an organisation, incur many expenses, they do add up over a 12 month period, and it is important to ensure that we remain solvent and viable.
I am very pleased that during the year we raised over $4000 from two functions alone, being the annual ‘hardtuned.net’ and
‘nissansilvia.com.au’ car rally, and a Rolling Stones tribute concert as part of ‘The Trinity Sessions’. We also raised monies
from a line dancing function, as well as, of course, over $2,000 from our annual subscriptions.
We have, in the recent past, received significant funding from a private philanthropist, who is also a bereaved parent. We will be
approaching this gentleman in the near future to ascertain whether he is willing to assist TCFSA again with our funding requirements over the next 12 months.
A new development over the last year has been the emergence of Facebook as a significant feature of the communication and
support provided by TCFSA. For example our Facebook page has, as I understand it, had in the last week alone 1,174 ‘hits’,
with 84 people actively ‘talking’ and 4 ‘likes’.
The last year has also seen a resurgence in efforts to get the national TCF body under-way, called The Compassionate Friends
Australia Limited (‘TCFA’). I am pleased to report that TCFSA is well represented on the board of TCFA, with both me and our
treasurer Baden Jacob both being directors of TCFA. TCFA will also shortly be holding the first meeting of an expanded board
Baden and I also travelled (at our own cost) to California in July to represent TCFA at the 2012 Compassionate Friends International Gathering.
Regards, Anthony Hurren, President father of Roland
Can we help? TCF ACT & Queanbeyan continues to struggle to receive “Deductible Gift Recipient” status. Can any other
chapter provide advice to overcome this problem. Perhaps another chapter would be prepared to email a copy of their successful
application or details of same.
TCF Mandurah is looking at obtaining funding for a part-time centre coordinator. Bearing in mind that funding bodies vary
significantly from state to state, advice or suggestions would be welcome.
John and Sandra of TCF Vic. recently made a brief visit to TCF WA & TCF Mandurah whilst in WA. This was an opportunity
to put faces to names, get to know each other and exchange news. We’ve had the pleasure of visits from others from ACT &
Vic. and I met with TCF reps in Hobart and in Launceston whilst in Tasmania several years ago. Any time anyone is travelling
to another state they are welcome to make contact with the local TCF.
Note for newsletter editors and management committees: The policy in the US & several other places is now to put only partial
birth & death dates in the newsletters because of the increasing prevalence of identity theft. We at TCF Mandurah have now also
adopted that policy to protect our members. We put only date & month in our “Remembered With Love” pages.
As this is the first newsletter I fully expect that, in spite of all my checks, I may have included some incorrect or outdated information. If this is so please don't hesitate to let me know. Feel free also to send information updates or advise of any changes between issues.
We are delighted to be part of the TCF National Newsletter once again and thank Margot McAllister and the National
team for re establishing this. It is a great way to connect in with each other.
2013 Compassionate Employer Recognition Program Australia Nominations Now Open
The Compassionate Friends Victoria Inc, partner The Rotary Club of Geelong Central & Principal Sponsor Stafford Group
announce the 2013 Compassionate Employer Recognition Program to be presented in March 2013. We are proud that Rotary is
supporting this program. TCF believes that employers who have shown extra care and compassion to employees – going above
and beyond the normal policies of most companies in helping employees who have suffered the death of a loved one, deserve to
be recognised. Nominations for the 2013 Compassionate Employer Recognition Awards are now open and forms can be
downloaded from www.compassionatefriendsvictoria.org.au. Please forward nominations no later than Friday 7th December
2012 For information contact Jenny Galati (03) 9888 4034 email: [email protected]
2012 Grieving Healing Growing Gathering. October 19 – 21. The Gathering Committee, were delighted that we had more
than 100 registrations. The timetable for the weekend allows for grief, heal and grow workshops and self care activities, with
time to sit back, chat and enjoy the fresh air and tranquil surroundings. The feedback from our last Gathering was inspiring:
Pilot of Outreach Suicide Peer to Peer Support Program: For the past two years we have been fortunate to be funded to run
an Outreach Peer to Peer Support service for bereaved parents and siblings impacted by suicide. This was funded by private
organisations that wanted to contribute to supporting families impacted by suicide. With the support of Life Is Foundation we
piloted the program which in essence connected Peer Volunteers with suicide bereaved on a one to one basis. We are currently
in the process of evaluating this program and refining the model that we hope we can extend to all bereaved parents and siblings
if we can secure additional funds to raise this.
Time Out Accommodation Pilot.
TCF surveyed our membership in 2011 to see whether or not it would be helpful to have some retreat accommodation available
so that families could have a low cost or no cost couple of nights away. From the responses this was seen as highly valuable. So
over the last 12 months we have been working on establishing venues for our families to go. The purpose of the program is to
source and provide retreat accommodation, on a needs basis, to TCF members. At present TCF has partnered up with a number
of organisations and retreat owners. Through these partnerships, we are able to offer two types of retreats – “check for availability” retreats and “set date” retreats. At present, we can offer “Time Out” accommodations in Yarck (near Mansfield), the
Dandenong Ranges, Rye and Canterbury (located about 2 or 3 minutes from TCF Centre). The Family Care Sisters have also
invited bereaved women to attend a regular nurturing week at the Croydon “Kewn Kreestha” Retreat for Women. We hope to
continue this pilot into 2013 and are currently reviewing this.
New Facebook page: TCF Victoria is looking to further develop our Social Media presence. We have set up a facebook page
and are looking to further expand and utilise this along with setting up a Twitter account. This is new to us and we have also
decided to develop a Social Media Policy to run alongside this.
Support Group News: Jon Stebbins along with our Groups Co-ordinator Andrew McNess have been developing our Group
Leader Training in alignment with Lifeline’s Certification standards for Suicide Bereaved Support Groups.
As background, in 2009, Lifeline Australia researched tested and established a set of Standards, Guidelines and Practices for
Bereavement Support Group Facilitation. These standards are an international first; no other country has undertaken the development of national Standards & Guidelines for SBSGs. And no other country has undertaken the rigorous steps involved with the
development of nationally accredited competency based training for SBSG facilitators, including the development of the very
competencies that the training is mapped against.
Lifeline Australia's Commonwealth funded SBSG Standards & Practice Project was completed in May 2009 and brought together collaborative partners including: Australian Psychological Society; Jesuit Social Services (Support After Suicide program); United Synergies' StandBy Response Service; NSW Dept of Forensic Medicine and The Compassionate Friends
(Victoria). This team developed pilot resources to train and guide SBSG facilitators who then piloted 8 separate SBSGs across
Australia. By building capacity in the workforce of those who support the suicide bereaved, the project aimed to improve the
quality of care provided to those who attend SBSGs.
We are pleased that our 2012 Group Leader Training was conducted in full alignment with the Guidelines.
For the past couple of years we have been running a wonderful program called “How To Care What To Say” which was developed by the Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement. We have a great team of Bereaved Parent and Sibling Volunteers
who provided over 35 presentations have been given to 495 people over the last 12 months. Our Community Education Coordinator Josie Costanzo along with Andrew Weatherhead (Volunteer and Public Speaker and Trainer) are in the process of
developing a Compassionate Friends training program. The feedback from the community on the presentations have been really
positive and helping many to understand the traumatic grief journey. As part of this we have developed a business card which
has “Ten Ways to Help a Bereaved Person” this has been extremely well received by people.
In friendship, John Bradley, President (father of Heather)
TCF WA Inc has had a few major changes this year. The organization has struggled for the past few years to make positive
changes so as the internal systems could be re-organised for TCF to find new avenues to improve and be sustainable. We have
moved office to a much more modern, compact space in the same building. The Management Committee has tried very hard to
bring about the changes needed to help the organization meet the needs of our members and it is felt that we have achieved what
we aimed for but still improvements can be made.
Within the past six (6) months the staff has worked tirelessly to re-vamp the membership by phoning each member to update
details and find out who still wants our newsletter or anniversary card. This is a time consuming task and a huge thank you to
those who have done this work. We have deleted many of the members who have asked to be taken from the data base and it has
also allowed those who want their newsletter by email to be put on the email list. This has given us the information needed to
update our data base and now gives the Management Committee a true figure of who it is we are supporting. This work will
help cut postage costs by half which saves the organization a few thousand dollars each year.
We have also made very major changes to the newsletter format which has given the organization a newer up-to-date profile.
The feedback from other like minded organizations has been heartening and also our fellow chapters around the world. The
person to be thanked for her work in developing this is Ursula Katora. Ursula has also worked on improving the information
Paperwork has been archived and shredded to make room for more up-to-date records and we aim next year to re-organise the
library. Peter Thomson has taking on the Treasurers’ job & he has given us wonderful reports which help the Management
Committee understand the need to look seriously at the way TCF finds its’ finances.
The TCF successes this year have been our Walk of Remembrance, The Street Appeal, and the two (2) very welcome donations
we received which have lightened the load for the organization financially. The Quiz Night has raised $1733.00 this year. Our
Christmas Memorial Service which for many is a time to reflect and remember their precious children will take place on Sunday
There have been other successes in the office with our phone contacts (Judy and Mary) making calls to our most recent bereaved
families supporting them to understand the journey they are on. Marilyn, Avril and Eve have also given their time to write the
yearly anniversary cards.. Annette has been a valuable support to our Treasurer Peter Thompson over time. She does a wonderful job of doing the banking and keeping the records in order. Bernie, one of our long term volunteers is here every Monday
folding our information brochures and lining our notebooks so a huge thank you to you all without you TCF would not be the
organization it is.
Mary facilitates the Heathridge group and Gabrielle the City and Fremantle groups. All of those amazing volunteers give more
than 100% each day to support our bereaved families to heal and find a life worth living again after the loss of their children. A
huge thank you to all of the Management Committee for their commitment to TCF WA.
It is coming up to the silly season and for most of us at TCF it is always a time when our loved ones lost are most in our
thoughts. I hope that you all have a very peaceful and family oriented Christmas and New Year and that your hearts will be
soothed with the wonderful memories of your beautiful children who still live in your hearts.
Vice President TCF WA (Mother of Roddy & Aidan)
Opinions expressed in articles within this newsletter are those of the writers and not necessarily
Of either TCF or the editor.
The Editor reserves the right to edit or reject any contribution.
Please do not reproduce any reports without first checking with the relevant contributor.
Worldwide Candle Lighting
Sunday 9 December 2012
Worldwide Candle lighting started in the US in 1997and is now the largest mass
candle lighting event in the world.
This years event is the 16th Worldwide Candle lighting and the event grows larger every
As candles are lit at 7pm in the different time zones a virtual 24 hour wave of light is created .....”That their light will always shine”.
Your event can be included in the web site if you follow the link from
Submit the details of your event.
People can then find a service in their area.
A message can also be posted in the Remembrance book on the day.
In 2011, more than five thousand messages were received.
TCF ACT & Queanbeyan
December 9 Candle lighting ceremony
at memorial bench, Weston Park
December 9 Candlelight Memorial Service,
7p.m. at Christs Church Anglican Church, Sholl Street, Mandurah
December 9 Candlelight Memorial Service 6p.m. At Botanic Gardens
Other chapters services —details on web site
TCF ACT & Queanbeyan
December 2 End of year breakfast at Southern Cross Yacht Club
Sunday 3 February, International Childrens Memorial Day ceremony at Weston Park memorial bench
January 27, International Childrens Memorial Day, “Flowers On The Ocean” event 8.15a.m. at Rotary Park,
Esplanade, Palm Beach and breakfast sausage sizzle.
March 10, annual “A Walk To Remember” from 10a.m. at Dalrymple Park, Mandurah
May 10, Mothers Day lunch from 12noon at Lotteries House, 7 Anzac Place, Mandurah
June 10 to 16, National Awareness Week
November 24, 1.30 to 3p.m. At Customs House, Circular Quay. Talk by Julie Dunsmore on “Strategies for coping
with Christmas, family celebrations and holidays.
December 8, In Memoriam notices in Sydney Morning Herald.
December 16 Christmas Candlelight Remembrance Service, 6.15 for 6.45 start at Uniting Church, 52 Merthyr
Road, New Farm,
Saturday November 24 Candlelight Memorial Service, St Matthews Church
146 Kensington Road, Marryatville. 7pm registration for a 7.30 start
Sunday 3 February 2013 International Childrens Memorial Day Balloon Release
at Kingston Park Coastal Reserve. BBQ at 5.30 and Balloon Release 7p.m.
December 15 Christmas Candle light Memorial Service at St. Georges Cathedral, St Georges Terrace, Perth
At the 5th TCF International Gathering Myrtle Fleming was elected to the
position of International Chairperson, replacing Margaret Pringle. Myrtle and husband Bob
are pictured holding the quilted banner of TCF South Africa.
Introduction as provided by Myrtle in response to my request.
Born of Scottish missionary parents who travelled to Khartoum for my birth from their home in the
Nuba Mountains of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, my childhood dream was to become a missionary in
deep dark Africa. Little did I know that my mission was to take place in the deep, dark places of the
hearts of bereaved parents and their families.
2 weeks after the death of my youngest 21-year-old son, Andrew Jones, who lost control of the army
ambulance he was driving while a medic amongst the Bushmen, in March 1990, I joined The Compassionate Friends. What a blessing these friends were to me. They saw me through my darkest
hours, as I know your friends have seen you through yours. When they insisted I take over as Chapter Leader 4 years later, I
agreed that I would, until the day my first grandchild arrived. They have held me to my promise - I am still here because, alas! I
will never be a granny, although, being a teacher, I dearly love children.
Bob, (who has been totally deaf since the age of 3) and I met 38 years ago and I have been blessed to have been married to him
for 26 years. He has seen me through my tears and has stood by me in all I do for TCF. In the old Jetta we have shared for 21
years, we have travelled to 98 different towns around our country and have been back to many of them a number of times, covering 320 000 km. I have met with 2000 families, usually in their homes but also in mine. My child’s life and death have given my
life its purpose and I have lived because he lived, not died because he died, as I wanted to do in the early days of my grief.
Blessings on each and every bereaved parent and family – my heart goes with you, wherever you may go.
In Loving compassion – Myrtle Fleming
Warmest love Myrtle Fleming
The Compassionate Friends East London Chapter Leader
National and International Liaison Officer of South Africa
and International Council Member / Chairperson
News from UK
Our recent Residential Weekend was held in the Midlands. The weather was glorious, we were
able to sit outside to have coffee and to chat. Both speakers were bereaved siblings, one showed
pictures of the new office and the other told how he has started a project in schools, showing the
devastating effect on parents and siblings when a young person dies. The food was good - the
accommodation excellent and the feeling of “belonging to a family” was very evident.
highlight came after dinner on Saturday, when we went outside to see our candle-bags illuminated on the lawn, each bearing a message to our loved ones. During the weekend, a small
group rehearsed the special song, “Share the Love”, written by Joe and Elizabeth Rousseau for
This was then performed during the closing ceremony.
A memorable weekend for everyone, whether they were attending for the first time or whether, Margaret & Jim Pringle
like me, they had been many times before. The move to our new office accommodation took
place early in October and the official opening will be on December 1st. TCF is grateful to the family who donated this
space free of charge - they have also funded the necessary improvements and it looks super now. It was wonderful to
meet some Australian members at the 5th International Gathering in California in July - I made a number of new friends
and was able to put some faces to names. It is always interesting to find out about TCF in other parts of the world and
how we all work together to support bereaved parents and their families. I enjoy reading Newsletters from overseas and
wish Margot every success with editing your National Newsletter – not an easy task but I know she will give it 100% effort.
Best Wishes to you all from Margaret
Margaret Pringle International Liaison Officer
UK International Council Representative
Email received 3 October from Karin Grabenhorst, Germany
My bags are packed, tomorrow I drive to Leipzig to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the “Verwaiste Eltern und trauernde
Geschwister in Deutschland”. I hope that everything works out very well—we present “Siris Reise oder Wo ist der Weg zur
Ewigkiet?” (Siris journey or Where’s the way to eternity?”, my musical about the “Little soul Siri”, a story about life, death,
farewell, grief and hope. And we will talk about the possibility for holding the next International
TCF Conference in Germany...I’ll let you know!
Warmest Love to you all, Karin , Mother of Siri
(R. Photo of Karin Grabenhorst & Carolyn lee at 5th TCF Int.Gathering)
Email received 31 October
Thank you so much for your greetings and your warm words to our 15th anniversary of the verwaiste Eltern und trauernde
Geschwister in Deutschland! It really was a very beautiful,
powerful and hopeful gathering with our children in our hearts—
worldwide! And the performance of my musical “Siris Reise” (Siris Journey) was beautiful—it has touched our hearts and
minds! You must wait for the answer if we could meet at the next International gathering in Germany, don’t you? Well, most of
our members agreed– but we don’t know when for now (maybe in 4 or 5 years) but we’ll work on it.
So bye for now, warm hugs for you
Email received 31 October
(R. Photo of Vreni & Henri Lehner at 5th Int. Gathering)
Regenbogen (TCF) Switzerland congratulates you on the relaunch of the
Australian National Newsletter and sends best wishes.
A few lines about myself: Two and a half years after the suicide of our beloved daughter Stephanie my husband
Henry and I participated in the 3rd International TCF Gathering in Sydney 2002. It was such a healing experience for
us. Henry and I came away from it with a renewed spirit. Back in Switzerland I became co-leader of Zurich’s Survivors of Suicide Bereavement Support Group where I could pass on all the grief “recipes” I was introduced to in Sydney by the wonderful people of Australia.
During the 4th International TCF Gathering in Vancouver in 2005 Joe Lawley founded the International Council of
which I became a member representing Switzerland. Soon afterwards Regenbogen (TCF) Switzerland nominated
me as contact person for bereaved expatriates. In the course of the increasing globalisation more and more bereaved people of many different countries contacted me in search of self-help groups, not only in Switzerland but
also in France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria and Italy.
On 27th October group leaders and contact persons were invited to attend a half day workshop on the topic
“Significance of and Effects on a Regenbogen Membership”. Our organisation is not subsidised by the Swiss Government and sponsors are few. Therefore we depend on membership fees in order to send out newsletters, invitations etc., print leaflets and hire facilities for group and other meetings. Alas, these fees will very often be forgotten.
Different feasible ways how to deal with this problem were discussed and solutions agreed upon. - In the afternoon
we went out into the snow (in October!!) to let balloons rise with letters to our beloved children gone too soon.
Our 2012 Candlelight Service will be held on 18th November at 5 p.m. in the Liebfrauenkirche, Zurich. The oecumenical church service in remembrance of our children will be followed by music, poems and candle lighting. Refreshments will then be offered and information for newly bereaved made available.
Lots of butterfly hugs to the compassionate friends of Australia and worldwide
Vreni Lehner, Switzerland, mother of Stephanie
5Th International TCF Gathering
Report as prepared for TCF Mandurah Newsletter
Among the almost 1500 TCF volunteers from 14 countries who attended the Gathering at the Hilton Hotel, Costa Mesa, Orange
County, California there were nine from Australia. These were Carolyn Lee & I from TCF Mandurah, Tony Hurren & Baden
Jacob from TCF SA and Sue Berry & 4 other volunteers from TCF NSW. I also attended as proxy for our International
representative Chris Dennys and the sole authorised representative of TCF WA. After registration we were welcomed to the
buffet dinner on our first evening by the TCF USA CEO Pat Loder & husband Wayne. It was great to meet up again with friends
and to make new ones from other countries.
We set up a display in the “Bereaved parents hospitality room’ and also in the “Siblings Hospitality Room”. Our butterfly
promotional package proved popular & we had to replenish the supply on display daily. The bookmarks, newsletters and
information pamphlets all went and Carolyn & I gave the pens we’d taken to people we’d talked with. Remembrance of Love
boards with the pre-ordered photos of our children, were set up outside the ballroom and there was another display area with
other photographs outside the reflection room.
The program started early each day and finished late at night. I attended the International Liaison meeting and it was pleasing to
report on our National body. Myrtle Fleming from South Africa was elected new chairperson after Margaret Pringle from UK
The opening ceremony commenced with a welcome from Pat Loder, CEO of TCF USA. The Mayor of Costa Mesa, himself a
bereaved parent, then welcomed us and with tears in his eyes informed us of the shooting that had just occurred a few hours
earlier in Colorado. Margaret Pringle read a letter from the founders Joe & Iris lawley who couldn’t attend and then introduced
the new International chairperson Myrtle Fleming. Myrtle read a poem which she’d written the night before. The keynote
speaker was lois Duncan, author of “Who Killed My daughter” and instigator of a website for families of unsolved murder
victims. The “Love in motion” choir dressed in national costumes, mimed songs, using sign language. Alan Pederson and Mitch
Carmody entertained us with songs and sign language. Mitch is an author and was a presenter; Alans CD’s were on sale.
I attended a grandparents “Meet and greet” on the first evening, facilitated the grandparents sharing session the next evening and
presented my workshop on grandparents grief the next day. The response to my workshop was extremely positive and I’ve been
asked to email my notes to several people. I was interviewed by an author who is writing a book on the topic and she has a copy
of my notes.
Interesting guest speakers including Kathy Eldon whose son Dan, a photographer/journalist was killed in Somalia while filming
after the killing of 74 people, Darcie Sims, bereaved parent co-founder of Grief Inc. author and speaker, and Michelle Linn-Gust,
bereaved sibling and President of the American Association of Suicidology. Michelle, Lois Duncan and Darcie Sims signed their
books which we’d purchased for our library along with other items. A copy of our sibling DVD was given to Darcie at her
The range and quality of workshops and seminars was excellent. I attended a workshop for chapter newsletter editors and the
TCF USA National meeting which had many points of interest.
At the banquet dinner we had a candle lighting for our children, a piper played “Amazing Grace” and TCF USA presented
several awards to volunteers and sponsors. As we had travelled furthest to attend we were presented with the book of
photographs of California from our table. This is a lovely keepsake for our chapter. The Walk to Remember was held on Sunday
morning and what a sight it was with over 1200 people in the walk t-shirts and some with their chapter banners. Carolyn & I
each wore a list of the children of our volunteers and committee members on whose behalf we walked.
The four directors of TCF Australia, Tony Hurren, Mike Berry, Baden Jacob and I took the opportunity to meet with Tony
Hurren as chair and Sue Berry taking minutes.
There were many informal get-togethers during the gathering and lots of stories shared. Two buses of participants went to
Disneyland and after a day of laughter and hair-raising rides Carolyn and I were amazed when, after hearing about the work of
TCF, an employee arranged VIP seating for us to watch the magnificent firework display. When the gathering had ended we
enjoyed a few days of sightseeing and were taken out on two days by Roberta, a lovely local TCF member.
We’ve returned from the gathering with lots of ideas, shared knowledge, new international contacts and a range of resources for
our library. I’ve received some promised training information from the UK, will be sending others my information on
Grandparents grief, have received an enquiry about our promotional package and will be exchanging newsletters with several
The date and venue of the next International gathering has yet to be arranged but it is hoped to hold the 50th anniversary
gathering in the UK where TCF began. There might be a gathering prior to that in Germany but that is yet to be confirmed. I
would encourage others to attend if they can. It was a busy but pleasurable time. I felt honoured to go and thank TCF Mandurah
for making it possible.
Margot McAllister, P.R.Manager
Mother of Kevin, nana of Jackson
Email received from Myrtle Fleming, TCF International Council Chairperson
My Dear Friends of The International Council
I am sure you all agree that it was a really great International Gathering. The spirit of it all was so tangible. Our very grateful
thanks to Pat and Wayne Loder and their team for putting it all together so well. It went off without a hitch and everyone was
made to feel so welcome.
Thank you to you all for making the effort and taking the time to be in Costa Mesa. Your presence was very much appreciated,
as is all the work you do for TCF.
Thank you, too, for your confidence in me and electing me as your International Chairperson. Margaret Pringle has done a really
good job for which we are most grateful. And a word of thanks to Jim, too. Margaret will be a hard act to follow but I shall do
Thank you Karin for your interest in holding the next International Gathering in Germany. We look forward to hearing from you
after your Anniversary weekend and wish you well.
On our way home to South Africa we stopped off in England. We were then able to visit dear and very special friends to us all,
our Co-Founders, Joe and Iris Lawley. We had met them several times and stayed with them in 2005 on our way to The International Gathering in Vancouver. We were so glad then to be taken by them to the Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital where it
all began. What wonderful people they are, and though Joe is getting frail, they are as interested as ever in TCF.
I am sending our best wishes to Simon Stephens who was advised by his doctors against travelling from Moscow. I had been
looking forward to seeing him again as to me he is such an inspiration. Out of his own personal sorrow as well as the sorrow of
our other Founders, Joe and Iris, the Hendersons and Betty Rattigan, has come this wonderful love that links us all. And through
our own personal sorrow we are linked to each other in love and compassion. We met Joan Henderson at the 40th Anniversary
Celebrations where we were also privileged to meet Patron Countess Patricia Mountbatten of Burma.
Continue in this love… this reaching out… as you have been doing…
Warmest love to you all…
The Compassionate Friends, East London Chapter Leader
National and International Liaison Officer of South Africa
and International Chairperson
The “Remembrance of Love” boards.
Ladies from TCF Mandurah & TCF
Mike, Baden, Tony & Margot
“A Walk To Remember”
TCF Contacts/ National
TCF ACT & Queanbeyan
Contact Maxine Davies [email protected]
Grant Cameron Community centre, 27 Mulley St. Holder ACT 2611
02 6286 6134
08 9535 7761
contact Margot McAllister [email protected]
Mandurah Lotteries House, 7 Anzac Place, Mandurah WA 6210
Contact Sue Berry [email protected]
32 York Street, Sydney, NSW
02 9290 2355
07 3254 2657
contact Joy Van Raalte [email protected]
505 Bowen Terrace, New Farm Qld 4005
Contact Heather & Baden Jacob
P.O. Box26, Kent Town, S.A. 5071
08 8351 0344
Contact Anne Wicking [email protected]
173 Canterbury Road, Canterbury, Victoria
03 9888 4944
Contact Alison Flanagan [email protected]
City West Lotteries House, Delhi Street, West Perth, W.A.
Prof. David Harries
08 9486 8711
Director/ John Hurley , (father of Anthony) President and member of TCF Victoria. [email protected]
Director/Tony Hurren (father of Roland ) Secretary and member of TCF S.A. [email protected]
Director/ Baden Jacob (father of Mark) Treasurer and member of TCF S.A. [email protected]
Director/ Mike Berry (father of Adam ) Web master & I.T. member of TCF N.S.W. [email protected]
Director/ Chris Dennys (father of Marcus) international representative email [email protected]
Director/ Margot McAllister (mother of Kevin, nana of Jackson) N/L Editor, member of TCF Mandurah
TCF Queensland representative; Joy Van Raalte (mother of Mark and Tanya) [email protected]
TCF W.A. Representative: Professor Peter Harries (father of Miranda ) [email protected]
Margaret & Jim Pringle