Sandy Bear Teens

Mark Phillips takes on Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge to raise money for Sandy Bear

Mark Phillips

Mark Phillips, a mental health support worker for Hafal, is taking on the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge on the 16th of April 2022 to raise money for Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity. Supporting him on the day will be his girlfriend and daughter.

The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge involves taking on the peaks of Pen-Y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, in the Pennine Range, in less than 12 hours. The route is around 24 miles long (38.6km) and includes an ascent of 1585m (5200ft).

Mark has previously taken on other physical challenges with the aim to raise money for charities including Pembrokeshire Guide Dogs and Diabetes UK.

Karen, Clinical Lead at Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity, says ‘We are really lucky to receive such support from our local community. We are really grateful of the support from Mark and wish him the best of luck during this challenge.’

Mark Phillips says, ‘I really enjoy challenging myself and like to keep fit by going walking. I was made aware of Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity from friends and thought why not take on the challenge and raise money for charity whilst I do it!’

Dragon LNG helps to raise the profile of local children’s bereavement charity

Dragon LNG
John Jones from Dragon LNG with Sandy Bear staff Karen, Anneline and Hannah

The staff and business partners at Dragon LNG have chosen Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity as their 2021 charity of the year. 

Sandy Bear offers one to one sessions and group events for children of all ages to help them understand their feelings and to realise they are not alone. They also offer support to these families to help them through their grief.

Ceri Crichton, Charity Development Lead for Sandy bear said ‘We are all thrilled to be voted Charity of the Year partner by Dragon LNG and look forward to working with the team over the coming months. The nomination will strengthen our ability to support bereaved children and young people across Pembrokeshire and in doing so, help them through the most challenging situation; the death of a loved one.’

Any child or young person can be referred to Sandy Bear by completing a form found on their website or by telephoning  01437 700272.

Lydia Uchronski, HR manager and chairperson for Dragon LNG’s Social and Wellbeing committee commented “We are very proud to be supporting Sandy Bear and the wonderful work that they do to support young people and families.  Dealing with the pain of bereavement is so hard at any stage of life, but for children to have to process such painful emotions is truly heartbreaking.  The support provided by Sandy Bear during these difficult times is both humbling and inspiring and we hope that our donations will help this essential service to continue to help those who need it in times of despair, to make their present a little easier and future a little brighter.’

Sandy Bear Family Fun Day at Carew Castle, 29th August 2021

Carew Castle

Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity are hosting a Family Fun Day Event at Carew Castle on the 29th August 2021. Pembrokeshire Coast National Park have kindly donated the use of the Castle, to the charity, for the day. The day will run between 10.00-16.00 on the August Bank Holiday Sunday.

Local companies and organisations have also put themselves forward to sponsor and support the day. Valero Energy are donating their marquee to the event. The Port of Milford Haven and Dragon LNG, who support Sandy Bear as their Charity of the Year, are also providing support through volunteering and sponsorship.

The purpose of the event is to raise the profile of Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity as well as to raise funds for the resources for the children, young people and families who are supported by Sandy Bear. Such resources help families to understand and cope with the grief they are experiencing as well as allowing children, young people and their families to remember the loved ones they have lost.

Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity will be inviting past and current clients to the day to help them continue to come together for remembrance and to also enjoy themselves too. The event is open to the public (entrance fee applies).

The charity have arranged for a number of guests, within Pembrokeshire, to attend the day to provide activities, performances and workshops. Covid-19 permitting, the county’s emergency services will be attending where they will share information about the positive work they do within the county as well as providing activities for the families to enjoy.

There will also be musical performances and workshops from Samba DOC and Tickle Tunes, craft activities, storytelling, a teddy bear hunt, a teddy bear picnic and a Sandy Bear walk around the Hay Meadow at Carew Castle. All information regarding the event is being posted onto the charity’s social media platforms in the weeks leading up to the event (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn).

Sandy Bear are holding a summer raffle in the lead up to the event, which can be entered following a link via their social media platforms. There are six different prizes to be won which have been donated by local businesses within the county. Prizes include a Two Night Bell Tent Stay from Nights Under Canvas, an 8”x10” Pet or Wildlife Portrait from Dawn Beer Art and an Alpaca Trekking Experience for Two from Pembrokeshire Alpaca Trekking. All proceeds will also go towards children’s resources.

Hannah Underwood, Charity Coordinator at Sandy Bear says ‘This is the first event I have organised since joining the charity in May 2021 and the first event we have been able to hold since the pandemic hit. It has been a really exciting challenge for myself within my new role. Everyone we are currently working with has been so supportive of this event and I am really excited to see how the day pans out!’

Daisy Hughes, Visitor Services Manager at Carew Castle says ‘We are so pleased to be working with Sandy Bear on the Family Fun Day in August. Activities are planned in and around the Castle throughout the day and all are welcome to come along and join in the fun! Sandy Bear are such an amazing charity and the support they give to children and young people is extraordinary. We are honoured to be hosting the event and are really looking forward to the day’

For more information about Carew Castle visit

Postcode Community Trust award to fund Sandy Bear Charity premises

Postcode Lottery

Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity has been awarded £19,601 by the Postcode Community Trust, a grant-giving charity funded entirely by player of People’s Postcode Lottery.

The award  will contribute to the running costs of Sandy Bear House for a year, ensuring the charity has a secure base where they can continue to support children and young people (and their wider families) who are suffering following the death of a loved one.

Sandy Bear House is a purpose designed welcoming place where children, young people and families can visit, in an environment created solely with them in mind.

Ceri Crichton, Charity Development Lead at Sandy Bear says, “Thank you so much to the supporters of the People’s Postcode Lottery for funding the running of Sandy Bear House …this will mean that we can provide a safe and dedicated space designed specifically for bereaved children and young people throughout the year and in doing so, help them develop the coping strategies and resilience they will need for their lifelong bereavement journey”.

Laura Chow, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “The death of a loved one is an incredibly difficult experience for anyone but especially so for young people. That is why I am glad to see Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity receive a grant which will help it continue its vital work.

“I am thrilled that, through Postcode Community Trust, grassroots community groups and charities in Wales like Sandy Bear are able to receive support from the players of People’s Postcode Lottery and continue to deliver important services in the region.”

For more information on the Postcode Community Trust visit

Why I volunteer…Janine’s Story


Janine became a volunteer for Sandy Bear in 2006 when she was approached by Anita, our Clinical Lead and Co-Founder, when they both worked together at Hywel Dda Health Board.

Janine, an experienced Community Nursery Nurse, talks openly about why she became a volunteer for Sandy Bear.

“When Anita first asked me about becoming a Sandy Bear volunteer, it seemed a natural step alongside my passion for working with little children as a Community Nursery Nurse. I was also bereaved as an infant myself, when my mother died when I was just 11 weeks old.”

Both Janine and her older brother were adopted by her grandparents, which Janine feels very fortunate for the love, security, and stability this provided in her childhood and teenage years.

“My grandparents were very open and honest about the way in which my mother had died, something we also believe is essential at Sandy Bear when working with bereaved children. I know that this helped me immensely in my journey through life without my mother”.

Janine loves working with children who come into the Sandy Bear service and loves seeing the progress they make by attending the 1:1 and groups sessions at Sandy Bear House.

“It is a privilege to hear them sharing their stories and their grief – and to share my own story with them”.

Janine has continued to support Sandy Bear throughout the pandemic as both a volunteer and secondee from Hywel Dda Health Board Flying Start Service, where she has been instrumental in developing the new Sandy Cub pilot, aimed at children under 5 who have lost a significant person in their lives.

“Knowing the difference that a loving and supportive environment can make for very young children who have been bereaved, Sandy Cubs is a vital service to support those children to have meaningful bonds and a sense of belonging despite the significance of the bereavement. This service, currently being piloted by Sandy Bear in Pembrokeshire, could have such positive outcomes for many small children”.

Volunteers Week 2021

Volunteers Week 2021

To mark the start of #VolunteersWeek, Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity wants to highlight the importance of our volunteers and the positive impact that they make to the lives of bereaved children, young people and families right across Pembrokeshire.

Join us this week to learn more about the work of our fantastic volunteers!

Hannah Underwood appointed as new Charity Coordinator at Sandy Bear

Children in Need Logo

Hannah UnderwoodHannah Underwood has recently been welcomed into the Sandy Bear team as a new Charity Coordinator. Hannah joins at an important time for Sandy Bear to support the growing need for the service due to the challenges presented by Covid 19. Hannah will be supporting the development of the charity that works closely with children and young people who have lost a significant loved one.

Passionate about working with children and young people, Hannah qualified as a primary school teacher and worked in Pembrokeshire until the Covid 19 pandemic hit. Having herself experienced bereavement at a young age, Hannah acknowledges the importance of child bereavement support and early intervention.

The role of Charity Coordinator has been created following the successful application by Sandy Bear to BBC Children in Need’s Covid-19 Next Steps funding programme, resulting in an award of £53k to increase staff resources at the charity.

Hannah says “When I saw this position advertised online, I jumped at the opportunity to work within such a role. I am really pleased to have been offered the position. I feel very passionate about the work Sandy Bear carries out and I know I will thrive within a position which supports children, young people and families within our county. I am really looking forward to developing within this role and making a positive impact for those who need it during such a difficult time.”

Ceri Crichton, Charity Development Lead at Sandy Bear states that “We are delighted to welcome Hannah into the Sandy Bear family and I am sure that Hannah will make a significant difference to bereaved children, young people and their families within Pembrokeshire. We also would like to thank BBC Children in Need who have fully-funded this post so that we can continue to develop our charity and advocate for the need for child bereavement to vulnerable children”.

Meleri Jones, Wales Regional Officer, BBC Children in Need commented: “BBC Children in Need is committed to improving the lives of those children and young people who need it most by supporting projects like this which work locally to make real and lasting changes to young lives.”

Sandy Bear announces new Ambassador, Maya Sonvico

Maya SonvicoWe are proud to share that Maya Sonvico has accepted the new role of Charity Ambassador to highlight the importance of child bereavement services and inspire others to support the Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity cause.

 Maya is a part of the Sandy Bear family and was one of the first children to be referred into the Sandy Bear service following the death of her father from cancer in 2007. She believes that the service was instrumental in helping her in later life when her brother died unexpectedly when she was just 20 years old.

 “As a teenager it is very difficult because you’re going through a lot of change,” says Maya, “there is a lot of heightened emotion at that age. Grief can fester if it is not dealt with…it was so different with the loss of my brother… I didn’t have to think ‘how am I going to get through this; how will I do this?’ as I did when my dad died.”

 “Sandy Bear gave me space to be a normal teenager whilst also helping me deal with the loss. They said: ‘this loss is a big part of you but there is so much more to you as well. I am delighted to be able to give something back like they helped me when I needed it too”.

 Ceri Crichton, Charity Development Lead said “We are over the moon that Maya has chosen to support Sandy Bear, both as Ambassador and group volunteer. She has accomplished so much despite having faced some of the most challenging circumstances in a young life and we are proud that she is our Ambassador. I very much look forward to collaborating with Maya and we would welcome more young people to join alongside her too”.

Sandy Bear and author Jess Childs join forces to support bereaved young people

Jess Childs

Sandy Bear and children’s author Jess Childs, who writes about ‘big issues for little people’ have joined forces to support increasing numbers of young people affected by bereavement.

Visitors to the Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity website can now access a virtual reading of Jess Childs’ picture book, Ivy and the Rock, read by the author herself – the video is below this article.

The free resource is the result of a new partnership which came about after Jess published the book based on her own experiences of love and loss, and as increased numbers of children continue facing bereavement in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jess, whose mother Olwen died in November after her cancer treatment was delayed by the first UK lockdown and who then also tested positive for Covid, said: “My two children have lost a Grandma they adored during this pandemic, as well as a much-loved Great Grandmother after she also contracted the virus and sadly died in January.”

“We are just one of hundreds of thousands of families in the UK that have had to try and cope with the loss of a loved one whilst also trying to explain that loss to small children whose lives have already changed significantly as a result of the pandemic,” Jess added.

“So, I’m absolutely delighted to have been given the opportunity by Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity to try and support others through the sharing of Ivy and the Rock, which is a colourful, age appropriate story looking at love and loss in an honest, yet child friendly way.”

With more than 120,000 deaths connected to Covid-19 in the UK alone since the pandemic began, services supporting families in grief have been busier than ever, with referrals to Sandy Bear Children’s Charity rising significantly within a similar timeframe.

Anita Hicks, Clinical Lead at Sandy Bear Children’s Charity said: “We are excited to be collaborating with Jess following the launch of Ivy and the Rock. We know that conversations about death with children can be challenging and this book provides a good starting point to have those difficult conversations. Our approach is always to be honest with children about the death of a loved one in an age-appropriate way.”

Sandy Bear Children’s Charity runs bereavement groups and other support services for younger children, teenagers, parents, guardians and carers, as well as professionals working with bereaved children. It is also launching a ‘Sandy Cubs’ group to support parents telling very young children that a loved one has passed away, among other new services, too.

To the Port of Milford Haven team

Thank You

On behalf of the children, young people and their families, our volunteers, our trustees and the team at Sandy Bear, we wanted to say a huge thank you for voting Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity as your chosen charity in 2021.

Your support this year will change the lives of many families who are suffering a significant bereavement and will help vulnerable children and teenagers in Pembrokeshire to receive much needed support through their grief journey.

You have already got off to a fantastic start through ‘Beat the January Blues’ and the photos of your efforts were brilliant. We hope the rest of the year will be fun and uplifting and we want you to feel valued for supporting Sandy Bear. We are working closely with Lauren and the team to do just that.

There are lots of ways you can help us in the meantime and in doing so, make an incredible difference to the lives of so many children and young people who have suffered the death of a loved one.

Please follow us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn – like and share our posts and describe why  you voted for us… this is important because it raises awareness of our service.

You can even set up a Facebook Fundraiser on your birthday to support us.

And if you need our support, please pick up the phone and call us on 01437 700272. Hopefully later this year, we will provide Port staff and their families with an opportunity to meet the Sandy Bear team to learn and talk about how to support a toddler, child or teenager who has experienced a bereavement.

Whatever way you to choose to support us this year, we are delighted that you are, and look forward working alongside you because we couldn’t do it without your help – thank you so much!