AFTER losing her husband last year, Janette Gallagher knows only too well how important it is to have a supportive network of family and friends.

The 55-year-old was widowed in January 2012 when her husband of 33 years, Kevin, died as a result of a blood disorder. He was 55.

She is now starting a networking group for women in their 50s and 60s who have also been widowed so they can meet up for walks, coffees and meals.

“I am lucky enough to have family and friends who have been very supportive,” said the mother-of-two.

“However, I have decided to set up an informal contact group for women of this age as I believe there is a gap in support for women of that particular age group in Swindon.”

“When you are widowed in your 50s or 60s you are more than likely working full time – other groups meet on weekdays.

“Also, your friends are all still married and need to spend time with their own families, especially at weekends.

“Widows younger than 50 or 60 have more opportunities to socialise and can go around the bars with their friends, and perhaps look more at the dating websites, and women in their 70s and 80s tend to join the Women’s Institute.

“The 50s and 60s are not really interested in the bars and dating game, and are not quite ready for jam making with the WI, although I do think it is a marvellous institute for older women.”

Women in Janette’s group, which she is calling Widows At Fifty Sixty – WAFS – will meet for walks, cinema and theatre trips, coffee mornings, and visits to pubs and restaurants.

“Recently it came to me that I could be looking at 20 or 30 years on my own and there must be other women that feel the same so why don’t we get together and have a laugh?” said Janette, who works at Venues Event Management in Lotmead Business Village, Wanborough.

“Kevin was a joker and a laugh and he wouldn’t want me crying in my cup of tea every day. He would want me to have a laugh.

“I am hoping the women who get in touch feel the same.

“Obviously there are going to be times when you want to talk about your other half but hopefully in a good way.

“It’s not bereavement counselling, it’s more about supporting each other and being able to just ring each other up saying ‘do you fancy a walk around Coate Water?’”

Janette is also hoping to be able to put widowed women in their 50s and 60s who live in the same areas of Swindon in contact with each other .

To contact Janette email her at