Woman sets up charity to reunite twins split up by bereavement
- Credit: Andrea Anthony
A Norfolk woman is looking to turn a family tragedy into something positive by helping others.
Andrea Anthony from Hethersett is launching a support group for twins who have been separated by bereavement.
Andrea has founded the Twinless Twins Support Group after losing her identical twin Melanie to cancer five years ago.
“Not a day goes by when I don’t think about Mel. We were so close and I miss her every single day,” she said.
“Losing a twin is a unique loss as being with them has been the only thing you have known. Your life is full of shared experiences.
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"Losing a twin can lead to an identity crisis and even a feeling of guilt that you have survived while they haven’t,” Andrea said.
“I am also aware that some twins don’t necessarily have close relationships and there are others where a twin lives thousands of miles away.
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"My sister had so much support from counsellors that I think it is my turn to give something back,” she said adding that she has received valuable support from Rowan House Health and Well Being centre in Hethersett.
“The special relationship of twins requires a special type of counselling when they become a twinless twin.
"As a twinless twin myself I struggled to find someone who understood the complicated loss that I was suffering.
"I hope to support other twins as they try to navigate through this difficult time,” said Andrea who is also qualified in hypnotherapy, grief therapy and one to one counselling.
For the past 24 years, Andrea has been a childminder in Hethersett and has been looking after children for over 30 years.
She has now retired from childminding and to mark her final day a steady stream of children, friends and family turned up at Little Melton Playing Field for a retirement picnic.
Fellow childminders Emma Wood and Karen Cox paid tribute to Andrea who they said had always gone the extra mile in supporting others and would be greatly missed.
In return, Andrea said she felt tearful but would be keeping in touch with children and parents.
“I’ve had a lovely career that has now naturally come to an end with my volunteering for the Daisy Project and Cruse Bereavement as a counsellor/psychotherapist," she said.
"I’m now in the process of setting up private practice after training and studying for five years following Melanie’s death."
Andrea supports and works as a volunteer with the Daisy Group which provides an outreach service for men, women and children suffering as a result of domestic abuse and the Cruse Group for bereavement support.
“The Daisy Group has been very important during Covid and something very much needed,” said Andrea who admits that one of her relationships had been “borderline abusive.”
Andrea has three children of her own—Nathan who was born in 1991, Lucas who was born in 1996 and Gabrielle who is 20.
She admits that she is also very close to Melanie’s two children - her nieces: “In many ways I see myself as the keeper of their secrets. Sometimes I feel I have five children."
After studying family and community care at Norwich City College, Andrea moved to London to become a nanny before returning to Norfolk and taking up a position with the Ducklings Playgroup, which at the time met in Hethersett Methodist Church Hall and later in the grounds of Woodside School in Firs Road.
“I went along to a meeting with childminders and realised it was something I would like to do,” she said.
She subsequently set-up a new childminding group from her Hethersett home.
Andrea praised the support she has received in her various ventures: “I have amazing friends and wonderful family. They are hugely supportive and really look after me.”
Andrea is keen to hear from any bereaved twin who needs support and she can be contacted on 07803 711 941 or via her website at: www.reflectionspsychotherapeuticservices.com