Cornwall’s young widows reach out to others at Big Picnic

Cornwall’s young widows reach out to others at Big Picnic


On Saturday 20th May, 2pm, young widows & widowers and their families and friends will spread out their picnic blankets at Gyllyngvase Beach, Falmouth to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the charity WAY Widowed & Young – a peer to peer support charity that, over the past two decades, has helped thousands of people who’ve been widowed at a young age.

Bath and Bristol (Michelle Russell)












WAY’s annual Big Picnic weekend is a chance for people who have been widowed young to get together with other bereaved families – and for non-members to find out how the charity works. Last year, this national event attracted hundreds of people to 30 of the most picturesque parks, beaches and beauty spots in UK – from Cornwall to Scotland. This year there are 37 picnics taking place – more than ever before.


Rachel Rawicki, Cornwall WAY representative comments:  “It’s a chance for WAY members and their children to get together with others that have been in a similar situation, to socialise, bring bereaved families together and for others to find out how WAY can support them, or their friends and family in the Cornwall area.  We are aware that there are a lot of people around Cornwall that are muddling their way through one of the most life-changing experiences they may ever encounter, some are isolated, with little practical or emotional support, yet there is support available and support that is tailored to their time of life.”


Local WAY member Kimberley Gray says:  “I lost my husband to cancer at age 45, having only six months prior moved down to Cornwall.  It’s not the best conversation opener when people ask how you have found the move to Cornwall.  For me, meeting up with other WAY members has enabled me to make new friends that just ‘get it’.  They will listen if you need it, offer advice when you want it and party and put a smile on your face when you just want to forget it.” 

The stereotype of a “widow” or “widower” is someone in their seventies or eighties. However, the sad reality is that more than 83,000 men and women in the UK are widowed under the age of 50.

Losing someone you love is difficult at any age. And if your partner dies young, the loss can be difficult to cope with in many different ways. Not only is there the pain of bereavement to cope with, but also you have been robbed of a future you were planning to share together. And you are most probably facing a huge array of practical challenges too – from raising children alone to simply paying the household bills.

WAY was founded in 1997 by journalist Caroline Sarll, who was shocked to find that there was no support available for her sister when she was widowed at the age of 35. Since then, the charity has gone from strength to strength and now has more than 2,400 members across the UK. 

WAY hit the headlines last month with the campaign against cuts to bereavement support payments – which was supported by widowed footballer Rio Ferdinand.  These cuts leave many young widows with children financially vulnerable at a time when they and their families need the most support.  According to Child Bereavement UK, 1 in 29 schoolchildren has been bereaved of a parent or sibling – that’s a child in every class.

 Anyone aged 50 or under who is overcoming the loss of a partner can be supported by WAY – whether they were married or not, with or without children, whatever their sexual orientation. It’s a peer-to-peer support network run by volunteers who have been bereaved at a young age themselves, so they understand exactly what other members are going through.