Cruse volunteers chosen as Coronation Champions

Two Cruse volunteers have been named Coronation Champions as part of the awards which celebrate the amazing contribution volunteers make across the UK.

May 3, 2023

Almost five thousand people were nominated by the public for the honour of being a Coronation Champion. Jane O’Riordan and Chris Atkinson were two of the 500 champions chosen across the UK and you can read a bit more about them below. They have been awarded a special pin and a certificate signed by the King and Queen and offered tickets to the Coronation concert at Windsor Castle.

Volunteers have been vital to Cruse’s work from our origins as a club for widows back in 1959, sending out advice and information from Margaret Torrie’s dining room table in Richmond. From those early days of writing letters to widows, to providing support over zoom in 2023, the dedication of all our volunteers to helping people in the depths of their grief is inspirational. Jane and Chris represent just the tip of the iceberg of the amazing work all our volunteers do to support grieving people at the worst moments of their lives.

Steven Wibberley, Cruse CEO


Our champions

Jane O’Riordan

Jane has been with Cruse for six years and worked in a wide variety of roles. She has supported bereaved people in person and volunteered on our national telephone helpline. She promotes Cruse in schools, libraries and in local community groups. She has delivered our Understanding Your Bereavement sessions in groups in Suffolk.

In 2021 Jane wrote a blog for us on how to have important conversations about death which offers a wealth of practical advice and an insight into her approach to breaking down taboos.

Jane goes into schools and explains to children not to be shy to talk about grief and provides life skills to young people that will be with them their whole life. Teachers write to the charity praising her work and stating the difference she has made to students. She is a shining star of hope and positivity.

Jane's nominator

I got this email and I thought it was spam! Being chosen 500 from 5000 is pretty humbling and embarrassing. I got this beautiful box with a certificate and an amazing pin. It said you are invited to take up two seated tickets for the coronation concert at Windsor castle. Being a volunteer is really challenging and there’s so much to learn - it’s a work in progress and there's a lot of change happening but it's wonderful to spread the word of Cruse and support as many people as I can.

Jane O'Riordan

Chris Atkinson

Chris has been volunteering for Cruse for 12 years since he heard a volunteer speaking at the college where he was studying counselling. He loved the work so kept up volunteering and six years ago became a supervisor, supporting and mentoring other bereavement volunteers.

Chris inspires people to get involved in volunteering for the benefit of everyone involved. He is very warm, approachable, and wise. Supporting bereaved people during the pandemic has been particularly challenging and with his guiding light for his groups of volunteers, he has enabled many, many bereaved people to be supported at the most difficult times.

Chris's nominator

Meeting the people that come along and volunteer and seeing their journey, and how much of an impact working with Cruse can make on people is brilliant. I get a lot of learning from this role and that’s great. I didn’t think I would be chosen. I’m just a normal everyday volunteer. To know people have been saying such wonderful things about me, it makes me very emotional. I’m so looking forward to the Coronation Concert!

Christopher Atkinson