How Honiton's former mayoress coped with bereavement

PUBLISHED: 14:09 24 February 2010 | UPDATED: 00:59 16 June 2010

FORMER Mayoress Jean Tratt, who was tragically widowed when her husband died during his term as Mayor of Honiton, has explained how a club for widowed and divorced women helped her cope.

FORMER Mayoress Jean Tratt, who was tragically widowed when her husband died during his term as Mayor of Honiton, has explained how a club for widowed and divorced women helped her cope.

New Friends was founded by Jean and friend Di Hawkins last year, after both women found themselves at a loose end following the deaths of their husbands.

The club is now poised to celebrate its first birthday with a skittles match and the cutting of a specially-made cake at the Royal British Legion Club.

"It has helped me and a lot of the club's members have said it has been useful to them, too," said Jean.

"It has given us something to focus on.

"We don't talk about our loss, because we all know how each other is feeling. It's a kind word that can make all the difference."

Since forming New Friends, Jean has enjoyed a busy social life - which has helped to ease the pain of her loss.

Councillor Chris Tratt died suddenly at his home in Oaklea 15 months ago after undergoing heart surgery.

Weekend trips to Blackpool Illuminations and even Butlins, not to mention outings to shows and day trips, have given New Friends' members something to look forward to.

The free-to-join club meets once a month at The Heathfield Inn, Honiton, where members enjoy a Sunday carvery. Those who do not wish to eat, meet up with the group later.

The next meeting will take place on February 28 at 12.30pm.

Information about other groups and local events are passed on to members during meetings.

Members are currently looking forward to a trip to see Girls Night Out at The Princess Theatre, Torquay.

"I hope, through meetings, people can make friends," said Jean.

Di's husband, Michael, died suddenly a week after Councillor Tratt in November 2008.

She said: "New Friends has helped me to take a different path in life.

"I had to put a line under everything Michael and I did together and go another way.

"Although I have never lacked confidence, it encouraged me to become involved with Honiton Senior Citizens' Centre, which has taken on a new lease of life."

To find out more about New Friends, call (01404) 43138.

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