Our Journey

How it all began



Hazel Furze and Helen Pepler who both worked in the Maternity Department of the Great Western Hospital were involved with a Siblings group run by a team of professionals for young patients at the hospital.

Hazel and Helen were also meeting families struggling to cope with a death in their family and they decided they needed to start up a dedicated social group for the bereaved children.



They set up the Rainbow Club, and were soon fortunate to have a group of enthusiastic volunteer helpers, and the use of Blunsdon Village Hall as their base, by kind permission of the Parish Council.  The group has been running ever since, with continuous support by their employers at the Great Western Hospitals NHS Trust. However, this group was originally set up to help families of patients, and all the time they were getting calls asking for help from other people.  



Hazel and Helen approached Child Bereavement Charity (CBC, now CBUK) to discuss the way forward for the Rainbow Club, as there was an obvious need to provide bereavement support for the whole family as well as the children. 



Becky King joined the team following Hazel’s retirement from the Trust. 


The team received training from Child Bereavement Charity for volunteers involved with the new venture – the Butterflies family’s groups now called CHYPS. CBUK also supported the development of these groups and worked together with the volunteers to run the first family group series.   



An anonymous donor gave them £35,000 to get an independent Bereavement charity started, serving Swindon and Wiltshire.  So, Becky & Helen began meeting with local groups and individuals already doing work in this area, such as the Rainbow Club, The Prospect Hospice, Youth engagement and Social Workers, Teachers and representatives from many other charities. They all said the same thing: “We can’t meet the demand.  We need more specialist support”

From this group of interested people grew a board of Trustees, and some incredibly gifted volunteers came forward to offer their skills to the charity in a variety of ways.



Becky and Helen spent helpful and informative times with staff from the See Saw Bereavement service in Oxford to get more of an idea of what the new charity could look like, and what needed to be done first.


The Saltway Family Centre offered the charity a physical home to work from, providing space to work and see families.



Child Bereavement UK agreed to work alongside the new charity to provide support, guidance and training. Trustees appointed Becky as a part-time administrator and fundraiser.


First four day training of new volunteers run by Child Bereavement UK.  


Website launched.

Launch event celebrating the start of Wiltshire Treehouse.



The first NEST support group is held for young people in year 7 upwards.

Later in the year Rainbow Club migrates into the first CHYPS support group for children and their families.



A brilliant relationship with Cooperative Food and Funerals is established, and employee Dean Mason helps raise further awareness of our work by running the London Marathon.

Kath Brownlee appointed as Bereavement Service Lead.



We held our first ever community Family Fun Day and our “First response to Child bereavement” professionals training is successfully launched. Met by a great deal of enthusiasm from child and youth professionals.



The charity recruits’ and trains volunteers from Wiltshire, only to have progress thwarted by the global pandemic of Covid-19. In response we move services online and develop new methods of supporting Children, Young People and their families.


Copyright Treehouse Wiltshire © 2024. All rights reserved.
Registered charity No. 1159719

Registered charity number in England and Wales:
1040419 and Scotland SCO42910