Grieving the loss of a loved one is what brings people to New Era, Brentwood and Billericay’s bereavement support group, but it is the support, friendship and laughter they find there that keeps them going to meetings.

Each two hour drop-in session offers an opportunity to natter with people in a similar situation, in a supported, informal atmosphere over a cuppa. Monthly afternoon meetings are held on the second Wednesday of the month at St George’s Church Hall. As ever, there were refreshments aplenty at January’s meeting as well as a celebration cake, marking the group’s 10th anniversary.

Managing Director of Bennetts Funerals, Jane Bennett said: “We started the group because we realised there was a need for support within the area.

“What is so fantastic is the support people give each other – they are their own success. They can pass onto new people the message that it will be alright, that their life will change and become different but there is still a life.”

A decade ago a handful of people attended the first meeting. More than 30 New Era members marked the group’s special anniversary, enjoying a slice of cake, taking part in a fun quiz and drawing a raffle. Importantly, there was ample time for chatting with friends.

Doreen Fairman from Basildon said: “It’s helped me tremendously. I think when you talk about what’s happened to you, you kind of get it off your chest.”

Doreen has been attending New Era for about five years, since the loss of Norman, her husband of 53 years, in 2010.

“Although you lose someone that’s very dear to you, it’s very hard at the time, there is a way to carry on your life if you get out and about.

“There are outings. We’ve seen a couple of shows. I’ve made friends. I’ve had to push myself to do things a little bit but it becomes second nature now,” added Doreen.

“You feel safe to open up. Another time you don’t have to say anything. You just have a cup of tea and it’s nice to meet people,” said Lynn Hailey from Hutton, who has been attending the group, after recently losing three close family members.

Janet Botwright of Bennetts runs the support group which offers empathy, trust and understanding. “I think most people feel supported by being in the company other people who understand there are good days and bad days. Dealing with anniversaries and birthdays can be really difficult.

“Friends will support in the short term but their lives carry on as before whereas the bereaved life is changed forever. And that’s what other members understand,”said Janet.

Father and daughter Roy and Jo Roper from Hutton have found the group welcoming and easy to talk to. Their first meeting was five months ago, after the loss of wife and mother, Viv, in June last year.

“It is hard the first week but here you feel comfortable talking to anybody,” said Roy.

Jo added: “You don’t feel silly or embarrassed. If you want to talk about your loss, if you feel sad, everyone has been through something similar.”

Meetings are free but a £1 donation is requested for refreshments.

Janet added: “The tea and coffee money goes towards hiring a coach for trips further afield once a year.

“We take people out to places of interest like garden centres, museums and anywhere the group expresses an interest in going. We organise meals out a couple of times a year too.

“We try to get people reconnected with life and get them to do things they perhaps wouldn’t do if they were at home on their own.”

Independently, New Era members have started organising a regular evening dining club.

A separate parents’ bereavement support group, Our Grieving Hearts, is also run by Bennetts. It meets on the first Monday evening of the month in Brentwood and second Monday afternoon in Billericay. Last year the group became part of the national charity for bereaved parents, Compassionate Friends.

“There was absolutely nothing out there for bereaved parents. Bennetts had the foresight to start a support group exclusively for anyone who has lost a child because it’s a very different type of bereavement.

“I came as a user of the group in 2011 when my daughter Emily died and I got so much from it that I wanted to reach out and offer that support to more people.

“We want to show newly bereaved parents of a child of any age, what hope looks like. You will have a life after the loss of your child but it will be different. It’s learning how to live the rest of your life without your precious child that is the challenge,” said Bennetts’ Bridget Holley.

© Wendy Pike, January 2017

This feature was previously published in The Brentwood Gazette

Bennetts Funerals (Brentwood & Billericay) www.bennettsfunerals.co.uk


Forest School Fun With The Endeavour School

By Wendy Pike

Pupils in Drake class absolutely love Monday mornings.  It’s Forest School day.  Switching the classroom and formal lessons for structured activities and games in the woods, these Endeavour School pupils start their week, whatever the weather, at Forest School in nearby Thriftwood. Ask any one of them and they’ll tell you it’s enormous fun.

“Forest school is the best. We do fun activities. I like to cook marshmallows. We made a face out of leaves. I made a face sticking their tongue out,” said Chloe in Year 6.

Classmate Morgan said: “I like everything about forest school. I like drinking hot chocolate and when we play a game, Deer and Wolves.”

Among the subjects chosen by pupils for their woodland leaf-art creations were numerous rabbits, a disco ball and an angry man. Star Wars characters Darth Vader and Luke Sywalker made an appearance too.

“They’re learning about team working. We’ve done art without them realising and there’s been lots of conversation and social interaction, which is really nice,” said class teacher Miss Jodie Messenger.

Anthony Hattam, Deputy Headteacher believes Forest School has much to offer.

“The children can run though the woods. They’re not in any danger, they’re completely safe.

“It’s just a great experience for them all rather than sitting at a desk all day long and I think they learn just as much by these experiences.”

Forest School - fun learning through play and exercise

Woodland adventures

Who wouldn’t want to start the week with a walk in the woods, playing games, enjoying the fresh air? But isn’t Forest School just simply playtime?

“They love being outside and just playing. That’s what they see it as. But outside, they don’t realise they are actually learning.

“In the classroom they can feel learning is quite forced whereas at Forest School, Mr Jackson’s here as well and I’m not the teacher, so we get a different relationship,” said Miss Jodie Messenger, Drake class teacher.

Leading Drake class’ Forest School adventure is former primary school teacher of 25 years John Jackson of Billericay Bushcraft.

“It’s more than playing because they’re learning all the time.

“They’re learning about different animals and how to interact with nature but also loads of scientific evidence proves that being outside in green areas like the woods is really good for your mental health,” said John, also known as Grizzly.

Everyone has adopted a Forest School name. On Mondays the Drake class register reads duck, eagle, snake and tiger, to name a few.

Serpent aka Vinnie said: “I kinda like the creatures around here and how we can do stuff in the forest.”

Joyful shouts, chatter and laughter. Rustling leaves and twigs snapping underfoot. These noises contribute to the forest soundtrack of the children playing a game.

“They’re learning hiding and camouflage techniques and teamwork but they’re learning all sorts of stuff about how animals would interact in the wild.

“We link a lot of the games to animals. We play a game like rock paper scissors but it’s called Salmon, Fly, Mosquito, so they learn about what eats what in the food chain. It gives them a bit more of an experience than just playing a game,” said Grizzly (aka John).

“When they first come into the woods, they go off to their own quiet spot and actually listen. They’re properly engaging with their senses – smells, sights sounds, feeling the wood, how different it feels. They all come back and share what they’ve done.

“It helps them to understand the seasons,” said learning support assistant Tansy ‘Tawny Owl’ Cook.

Grizzly added: “As the spring comes we’ll be looking at plants growing up and maybe find some edible plants which we’ll teach them about. As we get into the start of summer we’ll be looking at the bugs and animals that are around.”

Forest School & wonders of the natural world

The great outdoors

As well as learning about the natural world and keeping fit, what do the children get out of Forest School? Well they’re building confidence and resilience, learning teamwork, social skills, communication, co-operation, practical bushcraft skills (the list goes on) … and the children have a great time.

“The biggest thing they’ll get from this is confidence because all the activities are designed to be small, simple, achievable. And they learn resilience.

“Sometimes they’ll find things hard. We need firewood, so we have to go out and find it. It isn’t just given to them like a lot of the stuff in the modern world is.

“So they found sawing the wood quite tricky to start with but then they have to apply themselves and learn it. Nothing’s too difficult but a lot of things won’t be easy to do straight away. If they fail in the forest, what does it matter? Try again next time,” added Grizzly.

“A lot of the children just cannot do this where there live. Some don’t have access to country parks and woods.

“I think it’s great. I think all schools should be able to have the freedom and luxury to be able to do this,” added Mr Hattam.

Chloe ‘caterpillar’ concluded: “This is the best day of my life and there’s hot chocolate!”

For Ride class, Monday afternoons, when it’s their turn to enjoy Forest School, are the best.

© Wendy Pike November 2016

This feature was previously published in The Brentwood Gazette.

The Endeavour School Brentwood www.endeavour.essex.sch.uk

 


The Eagle, Kelvedon Hatch

Posted on

This pub review first appeared on Brentwood Brewery’s blog as January Pub of the Month and on the brewery’s Community News page in the Brentwood Gazette at the end of December.

If you’re a fan of  ‘proper’ food and beer, you’ll want to read on:

The Eagle, Kelvedon Hatch                        by Wendy Pike (Twitter:  @newswoozle)

Inside The Eagle - CopyThe kitchen at The Eagle in Kelvedon Hatch must be a busy place indeed as all the tempting pies, puddings and dishes on the menu are homemade on the premises by chefs Luc and Sue.

“The Eagle is a traditional pub with a friendly atmosphere that serves delicious, freshly cooked, traditional food,” says Landlord of 13 years, Stuart Darnley.

On the bar at The Eagle - Copy - CopyOn the bar you will find a selection of draught real ales, including Brentwood Beer.

For wine drinkers, manager Bev Bayes and Stuart personally select all the choices on the wine and Champagne list.  They both completed a Wine and Spirit Education Trust course, so they know their wines inside out.

 

The extensive menu includes most pub favourites like scampi and chips or chicken curry for £9.45 each as well as fresh fish and their popular homemade pies like steak and ale which is sometimes made with Brentwood Best.   Beef and Guinness pudding costs £10.45.  Seasonal specials, like chicken casserole and dumplings £10.45, can be found on the chalkboard but if you fancy a sandwich, a burger or even breakfast, The Eagle offers those too.

Special offer price for two courses (Tuesday to Saturday evenings only) costs £11.95.

On Sundays between noon and 5pm you can dine from the full menu, specials or enjoy traditional roasts with all the trimmings.

In winter’s chill it is hard to contemplate al fresco dining but you may want to write a note to self reminding you to visit the inviting Beer Garden when temperatures start to climb.

The pub has a 60 seat restaurant and can cater for large parties, weddings and wakes.  In addition to a loyal core of regulars, The Eagle is favoured by groups like the Mazda MX5 and Classic Ford Clubs, the local Bereavement Support Group as well as ramblers and walkers.

Quiz night is Monday at 9pm but be warned, it is so well attended you may have to breathe in to squeeze yourself in the pub.

Manager Bev said:  “We cater to individual requirements, offer good customer service and remember that everyone is an individual.”

The Eagle is such a popular place to relax, enjoy good beer and traditional, home-cooked food that booking ahead is strongly advised.

Brentwood Beer & Food Match Suggestions

For a winter warm you up why not pop along to The Eagle to try:

Winter Warmer with Chicken Casserole at The Eagle aerial - Copy (2)

 

Winter Warmer 4.7% ABV with chicken casserole with dumplings

Tasting notes:  A well-balanced, amber-coloured Winter ale with spicy notes creating a full-flavoured beer to enjoy on cold winter days.

or

Brentwood Best 4.2% ABV with home made steak and ale pie

Tasting notes:  Best bitter made with a good dose of Challenger and EKG hops giving a well-rounded flavour and aroma. Light copper-coloured, this beer is a firm favourite.

Pub opening times at The Eagle are Monday to Saturday 11am to 11pm and 11am to 8pm Sunday.

Lunchtime the kitchen opens Monday to Saturday noon – 2.30pm.  In the evenings it closes Monday and opens Tuesday to Saturday 6pm – 9pm.  On Sundays noon to 5pm.

The Eagle, Ongar Road, Kelvedon Hatch, Brentwood, Essex, CM15 0AA

01277 373 472

eaglepublichouse@btconnect.com

www.theeaglepublichouse.co.uk

www.brentwoodbrewing.co.uk

copyright 2015 Wendy Pike, www.newswoozle.co.uk


Graham Cochrane cleaning out mash tun - CopyWill Fisher cleaning out Mash Tun (2) - Copy

 

 

This feature first appeared in Made in Essex newspaper in August 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

The ultimate day out for beer fans, a Brentwood Brewery Experience Day, starts 8am sharp with an important choice.  Beer or science for breakfast?  Or maybe both?

“It’s a jolly, fine day out.  We individually tailor the day to suit each visit.  We can be as serious or otherwise as you like.  If you want to learn about the science behind the process, we’ll happily talk science.  If you want to sample our beer all day long, be our guest,” said MD, Roland Kannor.

The morning schedule begins with a briefing followed by measuring malt for the day’s brew, mashing in and sparging – collecting the all important sugars from the grain.  Being a brewer for the day is physically demanding work, so practical clothing and boots or Wellies are advisable.  Getting mucky is inevitable.

A work friend recommended the Experience Day to engineer Graham Cochrane from Great Baddow.  Graham put the idea on his 40th birthday wish-list.  His sister bought the gift.

“We’re watching the process live, as it happens and getting really involved, adding malt into the mix and helping throughout the process.

“I guess, when you go on a normal brewery tour you get told how these things happen but don’t really understand the time and care and the important points.

“But today we’re doing it real time and learning exactly where the care points and craft is and that’s the real interest,” said Graham.

Once the wort is bubbling in the copper, talk turns to technical aspects of brewing.

“It’s great fun for us too.  We enjoy imparting the knowledge we’ve picked up over the years, teaching people about our passion for beer and brewing,” said Brentwood Brewer Mike Holmes.

As well as learning about Humulus Lupulus (hops), barley and malt, there is much biology and chemistry to delve into.

“I already know a lot about the brewing process so it’s been fun to get involved but really the highlight for me has been the detailed explanation of the chemistry behind it, how everything works.  It’s been fantastic,” said Will Fisher from Colombia, South America.

Originally from Brentwood, Will a teacher, booked a Brewery Experience Day whilst on holiday visiting family and friends in the town.  He’s a true Brentwood beer fan and admits he’s an obsessive home brewer.  His dream –  to open a small craft brewery in Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast.

“I was really interested to see how they do things on a larger scale.  It’s not a lot different to home brewing, just everything’s upscaled.  These guys really know what they’re doing.

“Everything’s done scientifically using really precise calculations.  For me as a home brewer its more of an experiment.  Small scale, you can get away with just throwing things in.”

Midday guests are chauffeured to a local pub for lunch and a pint of Brentwood beer, all included in the package.  Afterwards, chores include digging out the mash tun and sanitising equipment before the day’s tasks are finalised by adding hops to the brew and pitching in yeast.

Home time is 4pm.  Everyone receives the brewery’s booklet ‘Notes on Brewing’ along with an 18-pint Polypin of the beer they brewed, once it’s ready – usually a week later.

The Summer Virgin that Will Fisher brewed will be ready in time for his departure.  The dilemma is he’ll only have a couple of days to drink it before he flies home to Colombia.

If sparing a whole day is difficult, tours held on the first Saturday of the month offer a good glimpse of brewery life.  They run at 11am and 1pm.  For £10 per person enjoy a pint of beer,  free gift and an hour-long tour.  Entertainment is provided by Head Brewer Ethan or Roland.  Discover The Hulk and where it resides or hear jokes and anecdotes, Roland-style.  Like the brewery’s close shave with Warner Brothers regarding a ‘borrowed’ image.  The upshot, it ends well – thanks to the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Chockwork Orange is now the official beer of the book ‘A Clockwork Orange’.

Brewery Experience Days are available Tuesdays and Thursdays for up to four people per day at £99 per person.  For details or bookings contact Brentwood Brewery (next to Calcott Hall Farm Shop):  01277 200 483,

enquiries@brentwoodbrewing.co.uk, www.brentwoodbrewing.co.uk

See original Made in Essex feature online:  See:   http://www.madeinessex.net/article/57