Coventry charity established in memory of stillborn son launches new memorial collection to support the grieving

Coventry charity established in memory of stillborn son launches new memorial collection to support the grieving

The Luca Foundation, Endless Love

A range of memorial gifts aimed at supporting the grief process have been launched by a Coventry-based charity ahead of National Grief Awareness Day. (August 30th)

The Endless Love collection has been created by The Luca Foundation and includes a unique teddy bear with a sealable compartment specially designed for storing a loved one’s ashes or special keepsake in.

Bespoke hampers are also available, made up from a growing range of items carefully hand-selected by charity founder Sharon Luca-Chatha to promote physical and mental wellbeing, including camomile teas, bath salts, scented candles and pillow mist sprays.

Sharon established the Foundation after her son, Luca, was stillborn at almost full term in June 2012.

Since then the charity has raised thousands to fund the purchase and repair of refrigerated CuddleCots for maternity units, neonatal intensive care units and paediatric wards. Sharon is driven by her vision to fund enough cuddle cots to service every maternity unit throughout the UK and then turn her attentions to cuddle blankets, for under 18s.

The CuddleCots act like a refrigerator to keep the body cold which allows the parents to have up to a week with their baby and, if they wish to, even take them home with that equipment. Each cot costs £1,750 to purchase and between £100-£750 to repair.

Sharon said of the new range: “I’ve based the collection on what I would have liked given to me when I lost Luca 11 years ago rather than just tons of flowers that you run out of vases for and then they die anyway. These are more touching personal types of gifts to give to the grieving family or couple or individual. And it’s not just suitable for child loss but all types of loss.

“The teddy bear opens up at the back and contains a 10cm sustainable tub in which you can keep ashes or a lock of hair, anything that is precious to you about the loved one you’ve lost. It seals back up and you can cuddle it, which is why it’s called the Endless Love range, because it’s a teddy bear that gives endless love.

“You’ll always have something of your loved one to cuddle which is unique and I’m not aware of anything like this that has been available before.”

She added: “Many of the items are carefully selected to help those who are grieving, relax and get some sleep because that’s one of the things that people really struggle with after a bereavement. You are exhausted but your thoughts still keep you awake at night so there’s no sleep or quality of sleep.”

The Luca Foundation, Endless Love

Sharon has also had the symbol of the Endless Love range made into a pin badge, which is also available to purchase, along with items such as jewellery and cufflinks, coming soon, also bearing the emblem.

“Our Endless Love badge and brand is made up of a heart and half an angel wing. It symbolises how your heart is torn because half your heart is gone with your loved one but you’re still living here while there’s a part of you missing,” explains Sharon.

The Luca Foundation, Endless Love

Through the charity Sharon also works hard to raise funds to provide resources, facilities and research to reduce infant mortality and support bereaved parents.

She has also written two books on the subject of child loss, Angel Warriors and an illustrated children’s book Why Did Grandad Die? which is also available for inclusion in the memory hampers.

Sharon is now a proud mum to 10-year-old Ky but who has recently been diagnosed with PTSD relating to her previous stillbirth trauma.

She added: “A parent’s worst nightmare is to lose their child. We were beyond devastated, our world had fallen apart. From the moment Luca died on the Monday inside my womb, to the Thursday when I gave birth to him, everything was in a daze.

“We were not ready for the next blow – the limited time we had with him, knowing we would then never see him again. After holding onto Luca as long as we could – just a few hours – we had to hand him over to be taken to the mortuary. This caused us such trauma. We just cried uncontrollably.

“As a society we are very uneducated on our unresolved trauma in our bodies from a loss which can release itself in adulthood through illness and or addiction. This is why talking to children is vitally important and that’s how our children’s book can help.”

Tickets are still available for this year’s Luca Foundation Gala, at Birmingham’s Park Regis Hotel, on September 30th. For further information about the Foundation or to purchase tickets to the Gala, visit here

  • Read more about Luca’s story here.
Woman whose life has been shaped by grief takes support into the workplace

Woman whose life has been shaped by grief takes support into the workplace

Tracey McAtamney, Surviving Bereavement

A Balsall Common woman is taking her own experience with grief into the workplace following an increased demand for fostering mental wellbeing among employees.

Tracey McAtamney, who was herself widowed at a young age, runs the Surviving Bereavement Foundation as well as a growing number of bereavement cafes across south Warwickshire and the West Midlands.

A qualified grief recovery specialist, her new Let’s Talk Bereavement series of presentations are tailored to the requirements of businesses and include question and answer sessions and signposting packs to take away.

Tracey established Surviving Bereavement in 2019 in memory of her late husband Tony. She was left widowed with two sons at just 38, when he suddenly collapsed and died in his hotel room while on a golfing holiday in Spain.

She was no stranger to grief even at an early age, after losing her father in an accident when she was just seven – the same age at which her youngest son Oliver lost his father.

Tracey McAtamney, Surviving Bereavement
Tracey delivering her presentation of grief recovery to Denso

She said: “I always begin my presentations with ‘nobody just decides to make their life all about bereavement.’ My life plan changed forever on 28th June 2004, one telephone call in the middle of the night to tell me my husband was dead – and that is really where my grief journey begins!

“The impact of bereavement in the workplace is huge and, actually, as a Grief Recovery Specialist we are taught that grief is not just linked to death, it can be any major change or loss of control in a person’s life. One in two people in employment experience a significant loss; this could be death of a loved one, death of a pet, divorce, loss of a job, loss of home or health and can subsequently experience grief of an intensity which impairs their ability to work and puts them at risk of related physical and mental health conditions.

“Many managers and employers would welcome help on how to support bereaved employees thus maintaining staff morale, making staff feel valued and reducing absenteeism. Creating a companionate culture within the workplace is needed more than ever for mental health support with waiting lists for counselling at an all-time high.”

The Surviving Bereavement Foundation exists to offer legal and financial advice as well as practical help, all the things, says Tracey, that were not available to her. The charity also provides bespoke Memory Boxes – hand-delivered by Tracey – which are available for grieving children and young adults, and typically contain items such as forget-me-not seeds, a personalised book and letter, journal, cuddle bears and other age-relevant items.

Michelle Evans, from DENSO, an automotive engineering centre in Coventry, said of Tracey’s recent presentation: “Her unique perspective and heartbreaking story made Tracey the ideal person to discuss coping strategies with our teams.

“Many of our colleagues are professional engineers with a very pragmatic and highly technical outlook on life. But, almost to a person, Tracey’s presentation really struck a chord with them. Some experienced bereavement recently, others a long time ago, but her experience and stoicism makes that journey a little more bearable.”

She added: “We recognise that bereavement and loss can occur to any one of us, at any time, and can manifest itself in many different ways.

“As part of our monthly initiatives, we introduce colleagues to multiple avenues of support and invite guest speakers, motivational coaches or trainers to talk to our teams. We feel that having this programme in place offers an important lever for our colleagues to have the support they need within the Company and more broadly in their outside lives.”

Tracey has published a book about her own journey called Hidden Strength and was last year named a Platinum Champion as part of the national Jubilee Awards to celebrate her dedication to volunteering.

Tracey McAtamney, Surviving Bereavement

She added: “People must think why do this now, talk about bereavement and loss, the answer is simple, I can now tell people from my own experience that there is ALWAYS light at the end of what seems like the darkest tunnel. When your whole life has been turned upside down and for me, the lives of my children.

“Loss of their dad wasn’t something I could protect them from. The realisation that I had lost my husband, best friend, father of my children and our business, our way of life, had gone forever.

“The physical pain at that time was indescribable, the constant feeling of sickness, disbelief and, for a time, a struggle to even breath. But this physical pain does ease and you are able to smile again and enjoy life with the knowledge that you will never forget that special person.”

Visit Surviving Bereavement at here

For further information about the Let’s Talk Bereavement or the Foundation, contact Tracey McAtamney at:

Review: Sunday lunch at Wroxall Abbey Hotel

Review: Sunday lunch at Wroxall Abbey Hotel

Wroxall Abbey, Hotel Warwick

Historic Wroxall Abbey Hotel is celebrating the successful first anniversary of its reopening in Warwick, helped in no small part by its re-emerging reputation for fine food dining.

There is definitely a growing appetite for the hotel’s seasonal British and Mediterranean cuisine as well as Sunday Lunch and Afternoon Tea menus.

Entering the front gates and making your way along the driveway towards this imposing behemoth Manion House, is a very promising start to our Wroxall Abbey experience, leaving us with high hopes for what’s to come. But will the food and service live up to the aesthetics?

One can’t help but be nervous as we arrive at the grand entrance. But it doesn’t disappoint. After a very warm welcome we are invited to choose our own table in the antique oak-clad Henry’s Restaurant. Here is the perfect vantage point from which to appreciate the 127 acres of grounds. Drinking in those breathtaking views – as well as your choice from the extensive wine menu – prove to both be the perfect accompaniment to our meals.

Wroxall Abbey, Hotel Warwick, Henry's Restaurant
Henry’s Restaurant

The Braised Lamb Bon Bon starter is as tasty as it is visually appealing while the Chicken Terrine perhaps more tasty than visually appealing. Soup of the Day, Smoked Salmon and Prawn Salad and Goat’s Cheese and Caramelised Onion Tart were also available on this particular day but I’m told the menu does vary.

Showstopper was the Main Course. Both the Roast Beef and Lamb Shoulder dishes were cooked to perfection and complemented with plentiful steamed and roasted vegetables as well as probably the tastiest Yorkshire Puddings I think I’ve had.

And just as we thought that couldn’t be topped, along come Sticky Toffee Pudding and Chocolate Brownie to exceed our expectations. While not the most imaginative of desserts, there’s no denying they are firm favourites – and actually elevated our pud experience to a sweet new level of delectability! Highly recommend finding space for either of these following your roast dinner. You won’t regret it.

Wroxall Abbey, Hotel Warwick, Henry's Restaurant
Roast beef and chocolate brownie

Lemon Crème Brulee, Almond Sponge or Ice Cream may be more to your taste. (Again, based on a typical, but changing, menu)

After your meal, I would strongly recommend making the time to stroll the grounds, which include their very own working chapel – the only hotel in the UK believed to be able to make this claim.

The estate is steeped in history. Its early origins date back as far as 1146 A.D, when a group of Benedictine nuns were founded by Hugh Fitz Richard of Hatton (Lord of Hatton). Hatton had provided over 3,000 acres of land to the church, to form a monastery known as the Priory of St. Leonard. Built in around 1315, the chapel is the only part of the original Benedictine priory that remains standing.

Wroxall Abbey, Hotel Warwick, Henry's Restaurant
Braised Lamb Bon Bon

The former girls’ school and one-time country estate of architect Sir Christopher Wren, is now back on the map as a hotel and, despite recent closure, has grand plans for expansion next year.

In the meantime, the Wroxall team continues to work hard towards its aspirations as a leading food and hospitality provider in the area.

If my visit was anything to go by, they are well on their way.

Visit here

New craft beer enterprise marks first foray into hospitality for Warwick family

New craft beer enterprise marks first foray into hospitality for Warwick family

The Craftsman, craft beer, Warwick
Harvey, Jacqui and Paul Brown. Photos by Warwick Photography Studio.

A family of entrepreneurs from Warwick have taken their first steps into hospitality with their new craft beer bar and shop which recently opened in the town.

Father and son Paul and Harvey Brown, supported by mum Jacqui and brother Regan, have launched The Craftsman, in Smith Street.

The venue, which opened last month, is already attracting the craft beer community with its extensive beer menu, including 16 rotating beers on tap plus more than 50 product ranges in the bottle shop.

As well as pints, the drinks are available in third, half and two third pint servings and it is believed to be the only bar to offer 16-beer flights – one third pint measures from each of their pumps, from hoppy IPAs and pale ales to rich stouts, fruit sours and lagers. Takeaway containers – called growlers – can also be requested. A selection of wines, spirits, liqueurs and ciders are also available.

The enterprise marks an unexpected change of direction for 20-year-old Harvey who has, for years, had his heart set on becoming a sports agent.

“I had offers from a couple of the universities who sold me a dream and how they’d be able to get me into the industry but it just wasn’t for me in the end. When I came back from uni for Christmas after the first semester I told my parents, I’m not enjoying it and I don’t want to stay on,” he said.

Inspired by his dad who has more than 30 years’ experience in running small businesses, it was Harvey’s new-found entrepreneurial spirit that brought him to the door of the former Switch and Revive café premises which were sitting empty.

The Craftsman, craft ale, Warwick

“It all started with a mad conversation at Christmas about taking over my girlfriend’s dad’s beer shop in Warwick. He was looking to sell up, and I thought it offered me a great opportunity to get started in business. So I quit uni and became the proud co-owner of Warwick Real Ale with my dad. That was a blast for a few months, and I learned absolutely loads about beer and business, but we knew it would never make money, then the old Switch unit came available and we just went for it!”

“It was a huge step up and has been a massive learning curve for me. I’m getting quite a decent knowledge of beer now just from listening to the craft beer community who know their stuff.”

The Craftsman, craft ale, Warwick
Harvey behind the bar

The bar also offers a modest food menu, curated by head chef and general manager Lee Mallen, to complement the beers. It’s all home-made using ingredients that are fresh and locally sourced wherever possible. Lee is a familiar face to regulars at the venue as he also headed up the teams at the former cafés that occupied the site.

The team is keen to work with as many local producers as possible, from a host of microbreweries through to its coffee suppliers.

Harvey said: “It’s such fun buying in all this new beer and putting it on the tap and then you’ll get someone that’s been drinking craft beer for 15 years and they find something new and they love it because of you. I get massive satisfaction from that.”

“People are coming from afar because they just love the vast and ever-changing range of beers we have. What we’re offering is an experience that you can’t get anywhere else. It’s a sub-culture. Craft beer people are just the loveliest people. We’re really loving it.

“I have put a lot of pressure on myself because dad’s had such a fantastic career in business himself. He massively inspires me.”

But Paul admitted: “To actually come into the hospitality industry as an owner is completely new to me, but I have drawn on all the business and consumer experience I’ve had before. And we’re learning from the people around us who know the industry.

“We threw ourselves into this but we’re still ambitious and, longer term, we’d like to have a chain. This is Craftsman WRK and hopefully there’s going to be Craftsmans in other areas too.”

But how is the working dynamic holding up for the Brown family?

Jacqui, whose background is in customer services, said: “We butt heads occasionally. It’s like any family really. We all have frustrations. But we have a discussion and move forward.

The Craftsman, craft ale, Warwick
The beer mats wall

“I think back to a year ago when some friends said to us ‘we would really love to have a pub’ and Paul and I said we couldn’t think of anything worse. ‘Why would you want to do that?’ we quipped, ‘wrong side of the bar!’. This was never something we sat down to discuss as a family. We’ve just fallen into it. It’s an opportunity that’s come and we’ve grabbed it. It’s been an incredible journey so far.”

The Craftsman is open between 11am-9pm on Tuesdays, 11am-10pm Wednesdays and Thursdays, 11am-11pm Fridays and Saturdays and 12-6pm on Sundays. Visit The Craftsman here

You can keep your hat on. . .

You can keep your hat on. . .

THE FULL MONTY. Jake Quickenden Ben Onwukwe Neil Hurst Danny Hatchard Bill Ward and Nicholas Prasad. Photo Ellie Kurttz

The award-winning smash hit play, The Full Monty will head to Coventry later this year, playing at the Belgrade from 2 – 7 October 2023 with a press performance on Monday 2 October. 

Produced by Everyman Theatre Cheltenham & Buxton Opera House in association with Mark Goucher and David Pugh, this fast and funny play is still very much of our time, as again we are hit by a cost-of-living crisis. Gaz and his mates are down on their luck and feel they have been thrown on the scrap heap, but they are determined to fight back and bare a little more than they ever thought they would have to.

As in the 1997 smash hit film, this brand-new production is a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs, laughs and heartbreak and stars Danny Hatchard (EastEnders, Not Going Out) as Gaz, Jake Quickenden (Footloose – UK Tour, Dancing On Ice) as Guy, Bill Ward (Coronation Street, Emmerdale) as Gerald, Neil Hurst (All Creatures Great and Small, Coronation Street) as Dave, Ben Onwukwe (The Shawshank Redemption – UK Tour, The 47thThe Old Vic) as Horse and Nicholas Prasad (The Comedy of Errors – Royal Shakespeare Company, Approaching Empty – Kiln Theatre) as Lomper with Oliver Joseph Brooke, Katy Dean, Laura Matthews, Danny Mellor, Adam Porter Smith, Suzanne Procter, Alice Schofield, and Leyon Stolz-Hunter. The young actors playing the role of Nathan will be Cass Dempsey, Theo Hills, Rowan Poulton and Jack Wisniewski.

Danny Hatchard is probably best known for his role as Lee Carter in BBC One’s EastEnders, and Gary in BBC One’s Not Going Out. His other television roles include Lee in BBC One’s Ridley Road and Private Rhett Charlton in BBC One’s Our Girl. His theatre credits include Aaron in Eyes Closed Ears Covered at The Bunker Theatre, for which he was nominated for an Off West End Theatre Award, as well as Tom Jenkins in Scrooge at Curve, Leicester, Jack Dawkins and Noah Claypole in Oliver Twist at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Ste in Beautiful Thing at The Arts Theatre and UK Tour and Valentin in Kiss of the Spider Woman.

Jake Quickenden’s theatre credits include the UK Tours of Hair, Footloose and Friendsical, as well as Peter Pan a Musical Adventure at Blackpool Opera House. On television Jake has previously appeared on ITV’s The X Factor, The Chart Show, I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!, Dancing On Ice, The Real Full Monty: On Ice and Channel 4’s Hollyoaks and Celebrity SAS Who Dares Wins. Most recently, Jake has been presenting regularly for ITV shows such as Lorraine and Loose Women.

Bill Ward is probably best known for his roles as Charlie Stubbs in ITV’s Coronation Street and James Barton in ITV’s Emmerdale. His other television credits include ITV’s The Hunt for Raoul Moat, Vera, Midsomer Murders, Heartbeat and Footballers’ Wives, BBC’s Silent Witness, Jonathan Creek, Casualty and Holby City. His West End theatre credits include Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at the Apollo Theatre, Viva Forever at the Piccadilly Theatre, Million Dollar Quartet at the Noel Coward Theatre, Spamalot at the Palace Theatre and Japes at Theatre Royal Haymarket.

Neil Hurst’s television credits include Channel 5’s All Creatures Great and Small, ITV’s Coronation Street and BBC’s Home from Home, Casualty, Doctors, The Syndicate and Moving On.  His theatre credits include the UK Tour of Fat Friends the Musical, Early Doors Live UK Arena Tour, Evita at the Leeds Grand Theatre, and Jungle Book The Musical at the Oldham Coliseum.

Ben Onwukwe’s theatre credits include the UK tours of The Shawshank Redemption and Black Men Walking, The 47th at the Old Vic, New Nigerians at the Arcola Theatre, The Treatment at the Almeida Theatre and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe at the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh. Ben’s television credits include ITV’s Professor T, Coronation Street and Law & Order UK, Netflix’s Marcella and the BBC’s EastEnders, Doctors and Holby City.

Nicholas Prasad’s theatre credits include Around the World in 80 Days at Theatre by The Lake/Hull Truck, The Comedy of Errors with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Approaching Empty at the Kiln Theatre, Treasure Island at Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Baghdad Wedding at the Soho Theatre. On television he has been seen in the BBC’s Doctors and EastEnders, and SyFy’s Krypton.

THE FULL MONTY marks the first co-production and partnership between the Everyman Theatre Cheltenham and Buxton Opera House, which recently became an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation.

THE FULL MONTY is directed by Michael Gyngell, choreography and intimacy direction is by Ian West, Set and Costume design is by Jasmine Swan with Lighting design by Andrew Exeter and Sound design by Chris Whybrow. The Casting Director is Marc Frankum.

Tickets are available HERE