Mum of Ottregian, Dan, helps charity that was there when she needed it most

Hugo Swire MP was invited to open the new Pete's Dragon suicide bereavement charity head quarters in

Hugo Swire MP was invited to open the new Pete's Dragon suicide bereavement charity head quarters in Exmouth. Hugo and Alison Hill from the charity celebrate the opening of the new building. Ref exe 24-16AW 0191. Picture: Alex Walton - Credit: Archant

‘Work done by Pete’s Dragons is amazing’

Dan Rowland

Dan Rowland - Credit: Archant

A grieving mum has found hope through heartache by helping to create new headquarters for the charity that was there when she needed it most.

Ottery’s community was rocked by the death of ‘true Ottregian’ Dan Rowland, 28, in 2014, and loving tributes flooded in for the ‘kind’, ‘funny’ tar barrel roller.

His mum, Lesley, said that after Dan died, the family had very little in the way of formal help and support, but just before Christmas that year, they received a ‘Hug in a Hamper’ gift from Pete’s Dragons.

At the time, she had heard little of the Exmouth-based charity that offers support and comfort to people bereaved by suicide, but has gone on to play a key role in helping to renovate its new premises that opened on Friday.

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Founded by Alison Hill after the loss of her brother, Pete’s Dragons now offers respite in the form of a free holiday for people in the region affected by suicide.

Lesley said: “After I received the hamper, Alison came to speak to us and we have been friends ever since. Any day I can spare, I come to help out. I just want the word to be spread around so people know what the charity is about.

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“It is amazing the work Pete’s Dragons does. I had never lost anyone in my life so I did not know what was out there, but we went months before we had anyone talk to us about Dan’s death. It has really helped me to come and get involved.”

Alison explained that Pete’s Dragons started as a fundraising group to thank the charities that had helped her family, but grew out of demand.

This is the first official HQ for the charity and also contains treatment rooms and meeting space, as well as the self-contained holiday home. It was opened by East Devon MP Hugo Swire, who praised the ‘inspirational’ work carried out.

Alison said: “The more people came to us and told us their stories, we realised there was not enough out there so we started to work as a registered charity.

“Some people do not necessarily want the group therapy and counselling - what helps is to get involved and help out. It is just as important having somewhere to go and do that.

“With something as specific as suicide bereavement, people have to go through the pain, but they can come out of it.”

She said demand was likely to far outweigh availability in the new Exeter Road, Exmouth, premises so, out of necessity, the charity focused on people in Devon and Cornwall.

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