We are devastated to share the news that, on Tuesday 10th August 2021, our dear friend, colleague and SAND Director Claire Duffield Townsend’s relatively short, but incredibly brave fight against cancer ended whilst she was at Severn Hospice in Shrewsbury.
Claire walked into our SAND lives in October 2018 when she approached our stall at The Hive during Mental Health Awareness day. At that time she was working for Shropshire Council Adult Mental Health Services. We could tell straight-away that her passion, enthusiasm, interest and skill-set would all make a huge and positive contribution to SAND – and we weren’t wrong. In June 2019 she joined our Action Group. Claire gave up her job and started working freelance which accommodated her work for SAND, and in January this year she was appointed as a Director.
Tragically cut short, Claire’s time with SAND has been inspirational and nothing but productive. She volunteered for the Shrewsbury & Telford Hospitals Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Board, soon becoming Co-Chair alongside Kal Parkash; she was a Gold Star Graduate of the LGBT Foundation Pride in Practice Course, fronted the launch of our EMBRACE Campaign in October 2019 and, most recently, Chaired SAND’s post film discussion following the screening of Gen Silent during the (all online) Shrewsbury LGBT History Festival in February 2021.Our REACH Project was her passion and she drove it forward, gathering people around her – without her we would not be expecting to launch it in Autumn 2021.
Claire boosted our morale, kept us in line with insightful questions, brought wild – and not so wild – ideas to the table and brightened our lives with good humour and a passion for all that she did. We will miss her in so many ways and always know what she brought to us as individuals and to SAND as an organisation.