BEREAVED mothers are reaching out to families grappling to cope with the loss of a child in Swindon and Wiltshire, encouraging them to join a support group which has proved a lifeline for them over the years.

The Swindon branch of The Compassionate Friends, initially a helpline manned by Margaret Bradbury, grew into a fully-fledged support group in May 2012 with just three members. It now welcomes 14 families at each monthly gathering.

Meetings aim not only to support parents who have lost a child, but also give grandparents or siblings a chance to express their grief and to discuss their daily struggles with others experiencing the same difficulties.

And this is only just the beginning for the group, which is hoping to support all grieving relatives in urgent need of emotional support in the region.

“We know that a lot of parents have lost children in the last two years and we want to reach out to them and let them know there is help for them,” said group leader Margaret, of Groundwell, who lost her 17-year-old daughter Beth in a road accident 23 years ago.

“There is nothing else like it in the area and we have people coming from Chippenham and even Reading to meetings.”

The 69-year-old mother-of-two added: “It is something that you never get over and anniversaries are very painful for everyone.

“But you learn to live with it. You have this need to talk about your child and this is a safe place to do it.”

Janet Holland, 62, of Old Town, lost her 32-year-old daughter Emma in 2011.

“It was a huge relief to be able to talk to someone about the way I was feeling,” said the mother-of-two. “Your life changes forever and you can feel very alone.

“People don’t understand what you are going through.

“Your family and friends can’t give you the support we give to each other. We manage to cope a bit better together.”

Jenny Carter’s son Trevor passed away at the age of 37 in 2011. The cause of death was never determined.

“My cousin in Salisbury had a friend who lost a son and she emailed me about The Compass-ionate Friends,” said the mother-of-three, 63, from Haydon Wick.

“I didn’t take much notice of it. But one day I was alone in the house and got myself really upset. I called the helpline and they put me in touch with Margaret.

“To be honest that was my saving grace. It was such a dreadful shock. I needed to speak to someone who knew exactly how I felt.

“Until you go through what we have gone through, you have no idea.”

The Compassionate Friends will hold a raffle and bric-a-brac sale at the Forest Cafe in Lydiard Park on Sunday, May 11, between 10am and 3pm to raise funds for the group.

To join the group or find out more, call the national helpline on 0845 1232304 or Margaret on 01793 703744. Alternatively, visit