ON a blisteringly hot day in the Dubai desert during a happy family holiday with her twin daughters, Jane Dixon watched her 46-year-old husband Steve die.

That terrible day in June, 2018, is understandably etched on Jane’s mind. But she has used her grief and determination to help others and is now creating pop-up Bereavement Support Cafes across the borough.

The cafes were officially launched this week with the help of the Mayor of Bolton, Cllr Linda Thomas who invited guests from across the community to hear Jane’s plans.

Cllr Thomas: “Jane Dixon has worked tirelessly to improve bereavement knowledge and support within schools and communities.

The Bolton News: LAUNCH: Bereavement Café founder Jane Dixon, left, with the Mayor of Bolton, Cllr Linda Thomas and supporters

(LAUNCH: Bereavement Café founder Jane Dixon, left, with the Mayor of Bolton, Cllr Linda Thomas and supporters)


“The Bereavement Café offers peer to peer support which right now is crucial to easing loneliness, improving wellbeing and offering opportunities to meet others in a similar situation in the hope of opening up the uncomfortable conversation on death.”

Jane, aged 48, and Steve were married for 18 years and had a family of five children including their 13-year-old twins.

Steve, a franchise director with a car firm, had previously had open heart surgery but was fine at the time of the holiday.

“We’d been having a lovely break in Dubai – our first time there,” explained Jane. “Steve was keen to take a trip into the desert in a Range Rover so we went along with this and another couple also came.

“He wanted to try out sand-surfing on a board and had gone down a couple of dunes and taken a few tumbles,” stated Jane. “Steve was climbing up a dune when he suddenly fell to his knees.

“I’d gone to fetch him some water but when I turned around, he was lying face-down in the sand.

“The couple with us rushed over and tried CPR but as I watched I saw the life just go out of him.

“Even when I knew he was gone, I patted his leg and said ‘you just need some oxygen, Steve, and you’ll be fine’.”

Shocked and grieving, Jane then faced the problems of getting Steve home to the UK and coping with her children’s emotions as well.

Back home, she faced another difficult journey as she and their children learned to cope without him. It revealed itself in different ways, especially with the twins.

“One wanted to go to school and the other didn’t and then her behaviour went downhill,” recalled Jane.

She realised that some of the girls’ teachers were unaware they had lost their dad so suddenly. Gradually, she also understood that there were gaps in available services for helping both bereaved children and young widows like herself.

She contacted Bolton Lads and Girls Club and organised a charity ball which raised £17,000 towards starting a children’s bereavement service there.

Jane also trained with Grief UK as a grief recovery specialist and began teaching teachers about the importance of grieving.

“Keeping those feelings inside can lead to all kinds of problems,” she explained.

“People always say it’s good to talk but then where can you? So I wanted to establish pop-up cafes to offer a place and someone who understands and can perhaps help to talk to over a cuppa.”

Jane has already arranged cafes at The Bridge Church Conference Centre on Monday, at Bolton Garden Centre at Hunger Hill on November 3 and at Bakers in Egerton on November 10.

The cafes are available for businesses to hire. For details of the cafes and bereavement support contact jane.dixon100@hotmail.com