Reverend Stephens Visits the Murwillumbah Chapter

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During his recent visit to Australia, The Compassionate Friends Founder, Reverend Simon Stephens paid a special visit to our Murwillumbah Chapter. It was a fantastic opportunity for our regional chapters to spend some quality time with Reverend Stephens. Judy Fraser, one of the Murwillumbah Chapter Leaders had a lot to do with organising and managing the event and has provided the following summary of the visit:

Reverend Simon Stephens spent the last three days of his Australian tour in Brisbane, and I will be forever grateful to Vera Caltabiano, President of TCF Queensland, for allocating the very last day, the 28th May, to Murwillumbah Chapter. Our venue, Greenhills-on-Tweed Reception nestles on the banks of the Tweed river and Mother Nature turned on a charming May day. Mt Warning was crystal clear and reflected in the calm water. A perfect setting for a perfect day!

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I had extended invitations out to our members and their families and also members of the community who work with the bereaved. This was the ideal opportunity to reach out to the professionals and create more awareness of the work of TCF. A 'once-in-a-lifetime' opportunity to meet Reverend Simon Stephens. Professionals included a psychologist, hospital chaplains, church ministers, funeral directors, pastoral carers, palliative carers and an assistant school principal. Seventy very lucky people were able to attend - fifty members, some from Grafton, Lismore and Caloundra and twenty professionals. An amazing attendance for a country town. The professionals who met our Founder, listened to his amazing life experiences and learned about The Compassionate Friends world-wide, and for most of them, this was their first introduction to the work of TCF. At the end of that day, I had barely arrived home and my phone was ringing. I was greeted by Cathy, one very happy hospital chaplain who said she just couldn't wait to phone me. She said, "Thank you - I feel so uplifted and I just had to tell you what a wonderful day I have had meeting Simon Stephens. I feel so informed - I had no idea TCF was such a widespread organisation. Thank you so much for a beautiful day".

I often remind myself, that we are bereaved parents, caring for bereaved parents. We come in all forms with different skills. Public speaking is not one of my skills, but I found myself in that position on 28th May - pinching myself, that I was actually introducing someone of such calibre - our Founder, world-renowned speaker - Reverend Simon Stephens. I felt extremely comfortable in Simon's presence, and once again I thank you Simon for your insight, and the formation of The Compassionate Friends. I look forward to seeing you again. With so many volunteers giving their time to TCF, I feel sure the organisation will continue to grow and nurture bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings for years to come.

A number of comments have been received since this visit to show their gratiitude. Some of these are provided below. Comments such as these warm my heart, and demonstrate the importance of the work of TCF. Observing the interaction of members, their families, and professionals in the community on the day reinforces the obvious necessity that TCF continues and grows.

Thanks again to Simon for his insight all those years ago.

I acknowledge & thank MyGriefAssist & the Tweed City branch of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia for their generosity towards funding our event, along with members of Murwillumbah Chapter and the local community.

Judy Fraser
Co-Chapter Leader

Special Comments from Attendees

Greg & Val

"How do people navigate the journey of life without friends who walk with you along the road? To have had the opportunity to share the day with the Founder of The Compassionate Friends was so energising. I will now look for ways to be more open and compassionate with those I minster to when conducting funerals."

Greg & Val


"It was a very interesting day, great talk by Simon. I have learnt a lot. Thanks Colleen and team."



"Thank you - I feel so uplifted and I just had to tell you what a wonderful day I have had meeting Simon Stephens. I feel so informed - I had no idea TCF was such a widespread organisation. Thank you so much for a beautiful day".

Murwillumbah Hospital Chaplain


Dear Judy,
"A very big thank you to you and your team, for yesterday's meeting that was so beautifully orchestrated. The venue could not have been more beautiful and the view from that balcony was breathtaking! Lunchtime was so enjoyable and the food wonderful, thank you. We all had such a wonderful day listening to Reverend Simon's story, which was heartbreaking, but inspirational as well. We did so enjoy ourselves and meeting some of your Murwillumbah members was a pleasure. Thank you again for all the time and effort you put into the day to make it such a success. We were privileged to be included. Blessings to you all."

Shirley Hazell
Grafton Chapter


"Thank you Colleen, Shirley and Judy for a most wonderful day with Simon. Everything was so organised and beautifully orchestrated. I was delighted to be there and meet this wonderful man. I sat next to a lady who had lost her son 11 years ago. She had had no previous contact with TCF and had attended the function as a result of Colleen and Judy's story in the local newspaper. We enjoyed a fruitful conversation regarding all the details of our respective sons and their deaths (my son Rob, who was a stockbroker, had died three and a half years ago). I spoke to her in depth about my son's skills with maths, his passion for his vocation, and also about his physical appearance. We exchanged phone numbers. A few days later she rang me, to tell me that after discussing our conversation, and describing my son to her husband, he realised that he had known and had had many successful business dealings with my son Rob several years ago. At the time of our meeting, his name had meant nothing to her, as all the dealings had been with her husband. I am astounded that with seventy people at the event, I should sit next to a lady who knew my son! This has made my experience of meeting and hearing Reverend Simon Stephens, even more memorable. Thank you to The Compassionate Friends for the support and comfort I feel at every monthly meeting. I look forward to our meetings – wild horses wouldn't keep me away!"

Bruce Keir
Murwillumbah Chapter

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