Belfast Telegraph

Maureen makes the most of New Horizons

by Fiona Rutherford

The former headmistress of Loughview Integrated Primary School, Maureen Butler, is turning a personal tragedy into an opportunity to help others.

Mrs Butler is setting up a new support group to help people discover new horizons in 2011 after her own dream of retirement turned into a nightmare.

The group is for anyone who has experienced traumatic change in their life and needs support to help them move on.

In Maureen’s case, she was looking forward to enjoying her retirement with her husband, Patrick, after 19 busy years as a head teacher. But, in September 2009, just two days after her school contract ended, Patrick died.

“Everyone deals with serious change differently. In my case I went onto auto-pilot and just went through the motions. I thought I was doing ok but in hindsight I wasn’t really. Before Patrick died he made me promise that I’d get help to deal with the grief.

“At first I was just too raw and couldn’t accept help but several months after his death, I went to counselling at MacMillan Cancer Care. It helped me immensely. I also tried other support groups but they just weren’t for me — I just felt that I needed something more positive.”

Maureen has since retrained as a life coach and she is launching New Horizons Network which she has designed to support others to whom the unexpected has happened.

“Having planned my future and had it suddenly taken out of my control, I realised how much people need support. Upheavals in work, relationships, finances and bereavement are all part of life. Now, more than ever, people who are experiencing upheaval, change or loss need the opportunity to meet up and feel supported. New Horizons Network will give people tools to look after themselves and be supported in engaging life’s challenges,” says Maureen.

At each monthly meeting, a speaker will talk on a variety of topics including relaxation, stress reduction, letting go and changing your thinking, in each case giving practical strategies.

And most importantly, no one is required to speak out and tell their stories. “Some people find it helpful to talk about what’s happened to them while others just don’t want to. But the meetings will give people the chance to meet others who are going through a tough time and find out ways to move forward in small steps.”

New Horizons Network will meet on Wednesday, January 12, and each subsequent second Wednesday of the month in Belmont Tower, 82 Belmont Church Road, and on January 19 and each subsequent third Wednesday in Clarion Hotel, Carrickfergus, from 7.30-9.30pm a charge of £15 per person includes refreshments. For more information contact Maureen on 07732467157 or email maureen.butler3@btinternet.com.

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