Winston’s Wish, the leading childhood bereavement charity in the UK, has held its first Festival of Memories in the North West – allowing bereaved children to share treasured memories of their loved ones.

Families gathered at Bolton Wanderers Football Club – the venue kindly donated free-of-charge for the event – to enjoy a special programme of entertainment, remembrance and support.

During the past 18 months, Winston’s Wish has greatly expanded its services in the North West. This was a chance for everyone who has benefited from the charity to gather together before the hectic festive season gets started.

Rebekah Lawson, North West Family Services Team Leader, said:

“We find that this time of year can be really difficult for families who have experienced the death of someone close. The run up to Christmas is also really painful knowing that special person will not be with you to share the festivities.

We wanted to give families the opportunity to be together in a ‘festival of memories’ so they could have some time to reflect but also have fun remembering their special person”.

Central to the event was a special show by Colour The Clouds theatre company, who performed Maggie and The Song of the Sea, a poignant play which allowed young people to explore issues of grief and loss through the eyes of a young girl called Maggie.

Children were given a chance to express themselves and have fun during an arts and crafts session. Poignantly, families helped to raise almost £100 for others facing bereavement by sponsoring the Winston’s Wish Christmas tree. Children were invited to dedicate a bauble to their loved one and all these were hung on the tree. This fundraising initiative will continue until after Christmas, enabling as many people as possible to donate.

When someone important has died, Christmas can seem like an unbearably difficult time for children and can be equally challenging for parents, carers and other family members. Getting proper advice can be crucial and Winston’s Wish exists to offer support via our Helpline, website and drop-in sessions.

Winston’s Wish helps children and young people rebuild their lives after the death of their mum, dad, brother or sister, enabling them to face the future with confidence and hope.

Each year, Winston’s Wish reaches over 40,000 bereaved children and young people through an array of dedicated services.