Our staff support team

Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide relies upon our wonderful volunteers to provide peer support to those impacted by a suicide loss. With compassion and dedication, they provide support 365 days a year…..But who supports them?

We have a small team of employees who support our volunteers and manage operations. They are mostly based in our National Office in Ilkeston Derbyshire, but also work from other locations within the UK (after all, our volunteers are nationwide!) Meet our support team, made up of 7 full and part time staff:

Eric Thwaites - CEO

I started working with Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide in 2006, setting up the new office in Ilkeston. I have worked to re-establish the service and help expand the support groups throughout the UK. I am now the CEO for the charity and proud to be a part of a charity that I am passionate about.  

Lesley Rose - Finance Officer

I joined SoBS in 2017, after 22 years working in local authority. 

My role involves bid writing, accounts, reports and providing financial information and support to the Board of Trustees and volunteers. In 2019 we were successful in securing funding from the England National Lottery, to support a 5 year plan to expand the charity and open approximately 3 groups in every England County. We are now looking at increasing our support to Wales and currently starting the process to apply to the Welsh lottery. Hopefully (fingers crossed) we will be successful and secure funding for a volunteer coordinator to increase our groups and support within Wales. My compassion for the charity, to support volunteers and increase our support to as many survivors as possible, continues to grow year on year. 

In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my husband, Ian, and my 2 grown up children Abbie and Jared, along with the new addition to our family, Monty, a 13 week old black Labrador. I also enjoy walking, shopping, spending time with family and friends and an attempt to keep fit. 

Jenny Prow - Office Manager

I’m Jenny and I’m the office manager at head office.  I joined the team in August 2020 when we were enjoying the brief respite between lockdowns. Prior to SoBS I worked in Business Services for the local authority for nearly 20 years managing teams across such diverse areas as Adult Education, Early Help, Children’s Centres, Careers, Multi-agency teams and Residential Children’s Homes before moving onto manage the admin teams for The Disabled Children’s Service.  Outside of work I have a large blended family including 5 children & stepchildren, 6 grandchildren between the ages of 4 and 12 and a few other ‘add-ons’.  As my waist line will testify, I enjoy baking but I also play the saxophone, sew and get my exercise accompanying Colin the tortoise on his daily walks.

Phill Abbiss - Volunteer Coordinator (North)

I started my career in 1983 when I joined the Royal Air Force as a Police Officer.  I completed my Dog Handler training and was posted to RAF St Athan in Wales.  I continued to move around regularly completing 2 tours of duty in Belize, a tour with NATO in Maastricht and 2 ½ years in the Shetland Islands.  When I left Shetland, it was to go to RAF Coningsby and volunteered with the charity First Response who support the Ambulance Service.  I left the RAF in 2007 and joined the Ambulance Service in Lincolnshire.  I was seconded across to the Community Response Department where I worked for 2 ½ years training and supporting Community First Responders and working with businesses to host Automatic External Defibrillators.  More recently I have worked as training manager for a private ambulance company and Occupational Health Technician. 

I live in Rainworth, Nottinghamshire, I’m married with 2 adult children, 1 grandson, a Labrador, 2 cats, 2 bearded dragons, and a tortoise.  We enjoy walking in the High Peak and spend our weekends away in our Motorhome.

For self-care, I enjoy swimming, yoga, walking with my 15-year-old dog, reading, sewing, gardening, and DIY projects.  I love to cook and I have a bit of a recipe book addiction with nearly 150 in my collection currently – Amazon loves me!   I am trying to get back into running after an injury and one day, hope to walk the length of the Camino de Santiago in Spain

Sarah Samways - Volunteer Coordinator (South)

Volunteer Coordinator for the South.  My journey with SoBS began as a volunteer at the Aylesbury group in 2017 and as that group got bigger, a friend and I branched out and set up the Milton Keynes group in June 2018 and we have been running it ever since. 

Prior to coming to SoBS, I worked for 9 years at the University of Buckingham looking after the students and staff in the Humanities department.  Previous employment has included teaching English as a Foreign Language, working as the Office Manager for a Pharmaceutical company, working in HR prior to having my family, and working as a Logistics Advisor at the Olympic Games in Barcelona in 1992, which was truly amazing!

I love languages and speak Spanish and French, and a little bit of Italian and Portuguese.  

Claire Mathias - Social Media Administrator

I am responsible for the charities Social Media, communications and fundraising amongst other things. I started out my career in communications of a very different sort! I Joined the Royal Navy in 2005 and completed many deployments as part of the Communications department onboard ships and ashore. I was very fortunate in my career to see much of the world, sometimes in the most challenging of ways, but that gave me a wealth of life experience I couldn’t have gained anywhere else. After 10 years of Service, leaving in 2015, I took up a position with the local Authority within the Safeguarding Children’s service as a Team Coordinator. I held this position until the opportunity arose to join the growing team at SoBS. The office environment was warm, friendly and welcoming. This, coupled with the need to raise awareness of our vital services, I knew this was a place where I could make a difference.

 

I work 4 days per week and enjoy the rest of my time being a mother to my 2 young boys and Wife to my Husband, Martyn. I am a casual Jogger/plodder and enjoy bootcamp and running as part of a club “Rogue Runners Ripley”. We have also recently taken up cycling as a family which has had varied results!

Cara Bartram - Volunteer Administrator

I have been working with charity for two years now, dealing with administration and supporting volunteers. I was involved in creating and supporting the e-learning part of our training package and organising and booking training for our new volunteers. I process applications and deal with any volunteer interest. Since starting I have seen the charity grow rapidly and it is such an exciting time to work for a lovely organisation. I am very proud to be one of the office members supporting our incredible volunteers! I am so pleased to be doing my bit raising awareness and taking part in the 30 miles for 30 years challenge too. When I am not at work, I enjoy spending time with my two children Emily and Finley. I am a big fan of walking and of course, stopping for coffee and cake!

Ruby Kent - Administrator

‘I’m Ruby Kent and I am very new to SoBS, having only joined on the 19th July 2022! My background is mental health based having worked for a counselling service previously. I am looking forward to settling into my role within the administration team and getting to know the organisation.
 
Outside of work I enjoy spending time with my husband Dave and friends & family. I love walking (especially if it leads to a good pub meal at the end of it!) films, reading, music & exploring new places whenever I can. I’m also a massive football fan, supporting Liverpool – which I hope no one will hold against me!’