As a new year is fast approaching it is time to look back, not something I usually say!

2015 has been yet another busy year.

In February to March there were articles for The Sunday Mirror, Daily Mail (which was never published) sadly that happens a great deal. Interviews with Radio Bristol and ITV.

There was the launch of Devon Grandparents Support Group, many thanks to Bernie and Gloria Little for all of the hard work that has gone into setting it up.

We also arranged our first lunch, a time for members of the group to just go out and enjoy each others company and have fun, it was the first of several!

Our regular meetings began again in February.

March to April we continued the work involved in becoming a registered charity, date was arranged for the annual cream tea fundraiser, we did some filming for an item on BBC Breakfast, and a follow up on Radio Bristol. We had a request from the Victoria Derbyshire programme for a grandparent willing to share their story but sadly no-one came forward.The coverage was national and interviews with Radio Newcastle, Radio Gloucestershire and many thanks to Bernie Little for talking to Radio Devon, whilst on his holidays!

June/July/August we had a request to make a date to meet up once again with our MP Charlotte Leslie in the Autumn, which we did.

We held the cream tea on a rather soggy afternoon raising £460, it may have been wet but everyone seemed to have a good time.

We launched our befriending service, which has been very successful. A grandparent makes a commitment to regularly contact another grandparent either by phone or email just to check in with them. Thank you to those who are doing such a great job and those who are ready willing and able, self help support at its best.

We had new posters and flyers designed and printed.

I did an interview on Woman’s’ Hour with an author Helen Harris who has written a novel on the subject of estrangement.

We also began our ‘Threads of Love” tapestry, the idea was that those who wanted to could sew or paint their grandchildren’s’ names and I would sew them together, the target being the concert. It was very moving to receive through the post all of the names that had been done with such love and care. It was proudly displayed and admired by many, we will use it whenever we are raising awareness. Once again huge thanks for making it happen.

I wrote to 10 bishops on the subject of grandchildren being estranged from their grandparents and received some very thoughtful responses.

We had the pleasure of welcoming grandparents from far flung places around the globe to our home.

The year moves fast.

In September to October there were more interviews, the purpose of any interview we are asked to do is about raising awareness and just letting anyone who finds themselves in this heartbreaking situation that there is help and support out there for them.

The Devon Group went to meet up with another grandparent in the South West.

We were again approached by several people regarding surrogate grand parenting, Esther Rantzen also looked at the possibility but after discussions with various parties it was felt that the child protection problems involved were too difficult to solve.

We were visited by some UWE students who as part of their media and filming degree, wanted to talk about what we do and they came to one of out support group meetings to talk to the grandparents.

We arranged another lunch and booked a Christmas jolly!

We had now almost reached the end of the year.

During November to December, we hosted another concert our second, thanks to one of our trustees and her partner. Hopefully this is going to be an annual event.

It is amazing to see so many people at these events and is very humbling. The concert is a wonderful coming together of words and music with all generations involved from grandchildren to great grandparents. Thank you so much to everyone who makes it possible.

We held a raffle with first prize being a 4 night break courtesy again of one of our trustees who is also an estranged grandparent. Thank you so much.

December involved BGSG’s Christmas lunch and I think it is fair to say a good time was had by all, and a visit to Devon Grandparents Support Group, a time for us all to reflect.

This month saw the last meeting of the year, and culminated in messages being put on our ‘Tree of Hope,” another very moving and emotional time. We had so many messages this year, those who are unable to get here to write their message, email them to me and I write them out and put them on the tree, each one is unique and special to those who have written them, our little beacon of light.

Phew!

I know I left things out.

There are so many people to thank again this year.

2015 saw us becoming a registered charity, our thanks must go to Veale, Wasbrough Vizards who got us through all of the paperwork necessary, all pro bono.

Thanks also to Ashley Palminteri for his friendship and support and to his colleagues at The Family Law Practice.

To the trustees who have stuck with us through the minefield of running a charity, thank you.

Thanks to our patron Dame Esther Rantzen for her continuing support.

The danger of course is that when you thank people, you leave people out, please forgive me if I have.

Without the support of my family and friends BGSG would not exist, for those who have cajoled me, kicked me up the backside when I have floundered and for those who believed in what we are doing is worth all the blood,sweat and tears.

But, most importantly for one very special person.

A beautiful, little girl of 7 in 2007, who has now I imagine become a fine young woman, had you not been part of my life none of this would have happened, you are my inspiration and the reason I do what I do, I hope one day to be able to show you how much your Dad, your Grandad, your Aunts and Uncles and Cousins love you. How you are in our hearts every single day.

Thank you.

Jane