When my mother was 44, she became a widow. Watching her rebuild her life whilst raising the four of us, keep our family business, Masons Removals Cardiff, going and mourn the loss of her soulmate and partner of 25 years, showed to me how resilient people can be and also how terrifically strong my mother was. She became a pioneer in the removals industry and the success of our family business really was down to her and my brothers. It was after my mother had retired that I came back to Wales to work with the family business, managing the online marketing and communications through my Digital Marketing agency, ONCREE.
When we heard about a new Armed Forces charity, Woody’s Lodge, their vision of creating a safe space where support and guidance could be provided for veterans, emergency service leavers and their families, really spoke to us as our father, Eric, was a RAF veteran who fought in the Second World War. When my father died in 1983, it was from a rare tropical disease that he’d contracted whilst in Burma at the end of WW2 that had lain dormant. Our household was always incredibly proud of my father’s service in the Second World War which is why we were so determined to support Woody’s in some way.
Woody’s Lodge support really can change lives for veterans and emergency service leavers once their active service has ended and they’re adjusting to civilian life; however, they’re not just here to support veterans and emergency service leavers, but also their families. They understand the grief and the loss of a loved one completely, especially in a military setting. Their own Sian Woodland, fiancé to Paul ‘Woody’ Woodland to whom the charity is inspired by, has written about her inspiring story and rebuilding her life after Paul died during a training exercise with the Special Boat Service.
Through Mason’s support of Woody’s Lodge, Dave Price from Welsh Veterans Partnership got in touch about one of the Veterans of Wales’ widows who was moving home following the loss of her husband. After speaking with Dave, my brother Richard Mason and I, knew that Masons Removals were going to help. I was only 17, and Richard only 13, when our own father died and seeing the devastation that my mother felt and his loss to us as children, I wanted to talk to Mrs Beazer and see how she was. I met a lovely woman, who is obviously just putting one foot in front of the other right now. Getting through her days and combatting her loneliness and the isolation that can follow in grief, by focussing on her job and her little home.
Mrs Beazer and her husband Jimmy, were members of the Veterans Families Community for over three years at the Welsh Veterans Partnership. Mr Beazer was brought up in Cardiff Bay and served in the British Army, joining up in 1945, he served overseas to maintain the peace. Travelling to Germany, as part of the Berlin Airlift keeping Berlin fed when Russian forces closed the border, as well as being involved in the Suez Crisis. Like so many others in the Armed Forces, he served during a time of incredible difficulties for the people of the UK as well as throughout Europe. Mr Beazer was always happy to discuss his time in the Army with the younger veterans at the Welsh Veterans Partnership’s Housing Cluster project. He was always filled with warmth and happiness and they really enjoyed living at Clos Park Morganog Veterans Project. It was Dave Price’s dedication at the Welsh Veterans Partnership that helped and supported Mrs Beazer after the loss of her husband Jimmy and working alongside Taff Housing, he also found her new home.
To ensure that she continues to have some interaction and a link to the outside, Mrs Beazer has started working as a cleaner at McDonalds in Cardiff. It’s so important to keep a link to the outside world, even when you’re going through grief and loss and especially in Mrs Beazer’s case where she has lost her life-long partner. No matter what age we are, there will be happiness and fulfilment again; watching my mother rebuild her life after the loss of my father, I know that whilst she grieved for a long time, she rebuilt her life and there was light again. There is so much more help available now to veteran’s widows than there was before, you just have to reach out for it.
Masons Removals Cardiff helped Mrs Beazer move home; we wanted to ensure the process was easy as possible for her and eliminate any further stress during this difficult time. So, we took care of everything, from packing up her home, to ensuring that she was comfortable in her new home. It was an absolute pleasure to help Mrs Beazer move into her new home and we hope she’ll find new happiness there.
There are so many ‘Mrs Beazers’ out there, who don’t want to be a bother, they don’t want to be inconvenient or get in the way but if they stay closed up and focused on not being a bother, they risk experiencing complete isolation. Places like Woody’s Lodge, and organisations like the Welsh Veterans Partnership and SAFA are here to help, regardless of your situation, they’re here to support families of veterans and emergency service leavers too, you’ll always be welcomed with a smile and the kettle on. Woody’s Lodge has regular Drop-In Centres to provide support, as well as a monthly Partners and Carers Lunch especially for the families of veterans. Help is out there, so if you’re needing some support, or you know somebody who does, why not visit Woody’s Lodge, see how they can help, even if it’s just a brew and a biscuit.
Written by Saloni Chamberlain in collaboration with Sarah Mason