On the 29th of January 2010 my perspective on life
changed forever. That was the day my little brother decided that his life was
too hard, difficult and painful to continue. In the first few weeks after his
death I kept waiting for someone to step forward and make everything ok again.
Surely this was a joke, right? Pete was going to come home with a massive
hangover, right? My kind, gentle, quiet, smiley, shy, thoughtful little brother
was going to be around forever, right? Wrong.
Pete was missing for five days. I have never felt such despair and
helplessness. I watched my whole family deteriorate in front of my eyes with
every passing hour. We had a wonderful support group of friends and extended
family who rallied round and helped to keep us going. But as each night drew in
we knew our chances of a happy outcome were diminishing. The first day was the
most frustrating - the police had all available officers searching but it just
wasn't enough for the terrain. We often say "its a small world" but
let me assure you, when you are looking for a five foot six, eight stone,
twenty-four year old in rural Cornwall, the world seems enormous.
On the second day, the cavalry arrived – the Cornwall and North Dartmoor
Search and Rescue Teams. Just seeing them arrive in their droves, setting up
their vans and radio systems gave us the much needed reassurance that
everything that could be done was being done. I must confess that at that point
I couldn't care less who they were and where they had come from. One thing and
one thing only was driving me and that was finding Pete. I discovered later
that the teams, in total, searched a massive area surrounding where Pete had
last been seen. This area included rivers, woods, train tracks and farmland.
The weather at the time was horrific, deep snow, rain, hail-storms and constant
freezing temperatures. However, for as long as the police needed them to help
search, they came, from first light till dark. They weren't successful in
finding Pete, he had concealed himself in a place none of us would have ever
connected him to, to spare us, his family the trauma of finding him ourselves..
Throughout Devon and Cornwall these teams are on call 24 hours a day, 7
days a week. They are all volunteers who buy their own equipment. They don't
have a rota system; they all get called out to every job. They have no central
funding. However, in any rescue situation, from missing people to stranded
people, in the two counties they are the first point of contact for the police.
They are a 999 service. During our time as a fundraising group (2010 – 2014) we
are extremely proud to have donated over £9k to Cornwall Search and Rescue
which has purchased items such as a Land Rover (the Dragon Wagon) and a
defibrillator (Dragon Heart).
Bereavement after suicide is an extremely painful experience, which
brings with it trauma and shock. I was at a loss with how to cope with my own
feelings let alone that of my children who were aged 20, 15, 13 and 11. Pete
had been a model uncle, involved in everything they did. Thank goodness for my
GP referring me to Balloons, a specialist child bereavement service. Their
advice was crucial in the early days in answering practical questions; should I
take them to the chapel of rest to say goodbye? should they attend the funeral?
They gave me expert and practical advice on how to deal with questions and
reactive behaviour. My children received one to one counselling, the
opportunity to meet other children in a similar situation but also some fun
activities to help them understand that its ok for life to "go on".
We are extremely proud to have donated over £1500 and even more proud to now
work alongside them supporting young people in Devon bereaved by suicide
In 2015, everything changed. I have always made a point of doing special
things on Pete’s Birthday. I had a lovely trip away planned but it was
cancelled and rebooking slipped my mind. I woke up in the morning and realised
what day it was. What was I to do? It was too late to arrange anything. An idea
popped into my head…before I could talk myself out of it I rang the local
airfield and booked a skydive for a future date for 10 people. I launched the
campaign to find those ten people and ended up with 30 divers!!!! The skydive changed the face of Pete’s Dragons forever,
it changed our focus with us deciding to donate half of the skydive money to
Samaritans, it also brought in an amazing family of Dragons who have stayed in
touch and continue to help us in many different ways as often as they can. We
realised it was decision time. Do we stay as just a fundraising group or do we
become a registered charity and undertake our own projects? It was a
no-brainer, Pete’s Dragons have always enjoyed a challenge!!!!!
Go big or go home right?
We have the best army of supporters possible. I often get overwhelmed by
their generosity; Pete’s Dragons really is a silver lining. I meet the most
incredible people who push themselves to the limit, give up huge amounts of
time, money and belongings, bake cakes, brainstorm, organise events………..the
list goes on. How honoured and grateful I am to know them.
Our registered charity status has enabled us to realise our dream and we
are now fully engaged in supporting people and families affected by suicide
across both Devon and Cornwall. We do
this in a number of ways and are always looking for new ones in order that we
retain our primary objective of treating each person within our service as an
individual and ensuring that the support they receive from us completely suits
them and their unique circumstances.
Sadly, I can't have my little brother back, my mum can't have her son
back but what we can do with your help is ensure that we continue to assist
those that are bereaved in a way and at a time when they need it the most
Big Dragon Hugs
Love Diva x