My Blue Heart honours late Haverhill teen
The emotionally tough times experienced by the family and friends of Jess Gower since her death in December 2010 have inspired them to help make bereavement easier to bear for others.
Jess’s mum Shirley, who lives with husband Nick and daughter Issy, 14, in Arrendene Road, Haverhill came up with the idea for the My Blue Heart badge.
It was inspired by not only the family’s experiences of bereavement, but also those of the young friends that Linton Village College student Jess left behind when she died. Shirley said: “People often want a way to show others they are grieving because they have experienced a loss and want to go out in the world and people have no idea what they are going through.
“We would like to promote it as a nationally recognised symbol of bereavement, like people recognise the pink ribbon for breast cancer.”
The heart shaped badge is in forget me not blue, with a smaller red heart within, and conveys the message ‘I carry your heart in mine and always will.’
Shirley added: “Not only does it bring comfort to the people who wear it, but it communicates to other people that they have been through a loss recently, or they are having a difficult day.
“Before we used to wear an arm band or dark clothing (to signify bereavement) and we don’t do things like that any more.”
The Gowers are in the early stages of formalising My Blue Heart as a registered charity.
The Design Office, in Haverhill, are also working with the family to create a website - offering their time and skills for free.
For now the badges are available to order directly from Shirley or via the Facebook page - www.facebook.com/icarryyourheartinmine - set up in November 2012 in response to public reaction to the creation of the badge.
‘Without even trying’ added Shirley, the charity has already received £600 from badge sales, donations or events.
The proceeds from My Blue Heart will go to support bereavement programmes involving children in the local community, such as Nicky’s Way, run by St Nicholas Hospice Care, and the work of CLIC Sargent.
“The ones we want to support”, added Shirley, “are those with bereaved children because we have seen the impact it’s had on Jess’s sister and her friends.
“What we have found so far is that it really opens up communication and people want to start talking about it and once they do it really starts to help.
“Although (the badge) represents our charity, the whole point is that it represents everyone’s loss to bereavement and not just our charity.
“I think that’s the bit that has caught people’s attention. It’s a really nice message.”
A My Blue Heart ball could also be held next January, added Mrs Gower, around the time when Jess would have turned 18.
One of Jess’s former team mates at Haverhill Rovers Girls Under-13 football team, Amy Hull, 17, plus Jess Harburt, 17 and John Kelly, 16, organised a fund-raising ball for sixth-form students at Samuel Ward Academy at The New Croft just before Christmas in aid of My Blue Heart, raising £140.
Amy said: “It seems like she was only here a little while ago.”
Amy, now hopes other fund-raising events will be arranged in the future and thanked Haverhill Rovers for offering the venue at a cut price.
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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