Grieving widow Sue Winchester launches Jolly Dollies in Hampshire to help other women

Sue Winchester and husband Nick on their wedding day

Sue Winchester and husband Nick on their wedding day

First published in News
Last updated
Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Features Writer

THEY were desperately in love and always thought they would grow old together spending every moment side by side.

But just four months ago, Sue Winchester’s husband, Nick, suffered a sudden heart attack during his daily morning workout at the family home in Southampton aged just 47.

Nick died despite frantic efforts from Sue and her 26-year-old son to revive him.

Today she is heartbroken and coming to terms with a very different life without her soul mate, best friend and husband Nick.

She says: “All of a sudden, without warning, life changes. The night before we were all sat round watching TV, just a normal family evening.

“We’d often talk about growing old and bald together and the things we’d do. We never for a second doubted our future wouldn’t be how we’d planned it.

“The shock nature of Nick’s death added to the magnitude of the trauma.

"All of a sudden he wasn’t there anymore. Instead, there is a dark cloud looming over you in a totally dysfunctional state. It brought me down very low.”

The months have passed in a blur, but the pain of losing Nick is overwhelming for Sue.

Sue, a manager for a utilities company, finds herself having haunting flashbacks of his last moments feeling heartbroken she didn't have more time together and struggles to imagine life without him.

But though the mum-of-three and grandma of four is devastated, she knows she must stay strong.

That’s why she is desperate to help others by launching a network for widows in the Southampton area.

Named the Jolly Dollies, Sue hopes the regional branch will offer support, advice and friendship to women who are suffering bereavement.

Founded six years ago by Yvonne Vann after losing her husband to a long neurological illness called Multi System Atrophy, it is the first time the group that organises regular meetings, theatre outings, dinners and walks will come to the area.

Sue, who was with Nick for 13 years after meeting at work, says: “Losing someone you love is a rollercoaster. One moment you may feel emotionally OK and the next you could burst into tears or crumble at the thought of going to a family event or tackling memorable date alone.

“Nick was such a great fun-loving character who ran marathons for charities.

"He was unique and wacky, bringing infectious energy to every occasion.

“He was such a romantic and throughout our relationship would write postcards and notes and either post them or leave them in my bag for me to find if I was working away.

“My friends and family have been marvellous but of course, though they are suffering too, life goes on. When you are widowed it feels very different.

“I think unless you have also lost your soul mate and gone through the life changing experience of loss, it’s difficult to understand.

“That’s what Jolly Dollies is all about and I really hope there will be women of all ages coming together to create a camaraderie amongst us all to give each other emotional and practical support.

“It is heartbreaking but I know more than ever that each day is a gift.

“I have to try to look to the positive and I believe Jolly Dollies could give so many ladies hope at their darkest times and encourage each other there is light at the end of the tunnel.

“Life doesn’t seem so daunting when you are surrounded by people who understand.”

Sue hopes to attract new members of all ages to join the Southampton group. To find out more about the Jolly Dollies visit thejollydollies.co.uk

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