Back in September 2015, Hemel resident Dan Cross had his life changed forever when he tragically suffered the loss of his wife.
But he hasn’t stopped that from letting him use his experience to help the lives of others who are experiencing similar struggles to him.
Family bereavement is undoubtedly one of the hardest things anyone can go through, and the idea of setting up a charity had been floating around in Dan’s head since late 2017.
He met Efrem Brynin, who himself has had to mourn the death of his son, on Channel 4’s SAS Who Dares Wins back in January 2018, and this programme both led them to come together to create ‘StrongMen’ as an official community interest.
Subsequently a £10,000 grant from The National Lottery followed and kicked off Dan and Efrem’s charity.
It became increasingly difficult for the pair to get sponsorships and they came to the decision in July 2019 to transition into a charity.
Speaking to HemelNews, Dan told us the importance of receiving support after going through a traumatic bereavement.
“Getting support is so important, initially from friends and family, but the traditional support wasn’t helping me with my anxiety and depression – but it is vital, bereavement really can have a devastating effect.
“When I spoke to people who had been through the same as me, I felt normal again, like I knew I had something in common with someone.”
StrongMen will initially provide and deliver free weekend breaks for men aged over 18 who have suffered the bereavement of a spouse, child, parent or sibling.
“I wanted to help other people, but do something different, and I believe it’s working. We currently have 750 people on the waiting list for one of our weekends.
“We take 20 men at a time and we want it to grow organically and we were wary that larger amounts of people on one trip may have subsequently caused smaller groups – we wanted everyone to be together.
“The best thing one of the people who went on the trip said to me is ‘I came as an individual and left with 19 brothers.’ That really stuck with me.” Said Dan
Dan wants to get his message across even more in 2020 and told us how people can help.
The charity has a few events coming up, including a black-tie event in London to fundraise, and they will also be hosting a rugby sevens event – all details can be found on their website at strongmen.org.uk/