Norfolk charity leader reflects on journey of life
Biddy Collyer is set to step down after 15 years launching and leading the Christian Pregnancy Choices Norfolk charity, providing a vital service to hundreds of women and their partners. Here she looks back on the journey past and future.
Some 15 years ago, I was attending a Christian counselling conference with Tish and Richard Ash-Lameer. One of the main speakers was Joanna Thompson from Care for Life (now Careconfidential). She talked about the work of the pregnancy crisis centres that were opening right across the country and showed a map showing their location.
There was nothing in East Anglia, let alone in Norfolk. We looked at each other and said that someone ought to do something about the need locally. It was as if God answered “Yes, I think so too!” and pointed His finger in our direction.
That was the beginning of an amazing journey that has brought Pregnancy Choices Norfolk from our beginning in March 1999 at the Fishergate Centre, to where we are now, with a new name and city centre location in Princes Street.
The focus of the pregnancy choices work is to counsel women and their partners who have an unplanned pregnancy, offering them the time and space to come to an informed decision within a caring and supportive environment. People in their situation are very vulnerable and often have a myriad of voices telling them what they “should” do. We do not want to add to the clamour in their heads.
For those who have lost a baby, we give them the opportunity to healthily grieve their loss and come to a place of acceptance and peace. Our faith is expressed implicitly in how we work and not in what we say. Each client is asked to complete an evaluation, and I know from the many positive comments that we overwhelmingly succeed in our intention.
Since those early days, I can see many high points, but the two main ones have to be the production of a DVD called “Reannon’s Journey “ where a past client movingly tells of her experience of a late termination and the healing she received from being part of one of our post abortion groups. The DVD has impacted women all over the country and abroad, and has had over 10,000 hits on You Tube. The other, more recent highlight, was when the Archbishop of York, Rt Rev John Sentamu, visited our new premises in Princes Street and gave us his blessing.
Apart from the Trustees, no-one knew then that I had decided it was time for me to retire and to pass the baton on to someone else. I believe that together our wonderful team of volunteers, staff and trustees have built a strong foundation on which the next stage can be built.
God alone knows the next stage of my journey so, although I have some ideas, I have no intention of rushing into anything. To give myself space (and my successor room), I have decided to walk the pilgrim path from Vezelay
to Santiago de Compostella
in Northern Spain:
a trek of over 1,000 miles. That should give me plenty of time to reflect and prepare for the future.
Click here to see the advertisement for Director of Pregnancy Choices Norfolk
Pictured above is Biddy Collyer with her team and the Archbishop of York and with Reannon whose DVD has had such a wide impact.