Southgate sisters Casey and Sam Coggins enjoyed their moment of fame on stage with Les Misérables stars Michael Ball and Alfie Boe, as part of this year’s Children In Need.

Casey, 16, and Samantha, 14, are being supported by local child bereavement charity Grief Encounter, one of the beneficiaries from Children in Need 2019. The sisters, the oldest of four in their family, were aged eight and six when their father died by suicide.

They were chosen for a fun-filled afternoon, going behind the scenes with the two stars from the hit West End musical, before heading to a special Children In Need gala performance of Mary Poppins, complete with special appearance from Pudsey Bear.

Mum Tracie said it was such a “special treat” for the girls after everything they have been through.

She said: “Casey became very withdrawn about two and a half years ago, which was the main reason we were referred to Grief Encounter. When she went on stage, her face lit up; it was so wonderful to see her like that.

“Going to see Mary Poppins was also fantastic. We all found the ending very emotional.”

Tracie says Grief Encounter has been a lifeline for the family, particularly Casey.

“Grief Encounter arranged for Casey to have a counsellor and she was also part of a 10-week intensive counselling course with a group of others kids her age. It’s been the making of her,” says Tracie. “The kids from the counselling course are now all on a WhatsApp group together and are regularly in contact.

“We have also attended workshops and family days together. I think initially we hadn’t realised how much Casey’s grief was affecting her but she’s doing really well now.”

This year’s Children in Need also coincided with the launch of Children’s Grief Awareness Week 2019, an initiative established five years ago by Grief Encounter, in conjunction with the Child Bereavement Network (CBN), to raise awareness of the needs of bereaved young people.

A free e-book, #LostforWords, launched this week and is a resource for bereaved children, with quotes and advice from other bereaved youngsters, as a vehicle to give children a way to express their trauma. The book is available to download from the Grief Encounter website now.

Shelley Gilbert, Founder and Lifetime President of Grief Encounter, said: “Learning ‘death talk’ is like learning a new language. Trauma can give words new meaning to older bereaved children, while younger ones simply don’t have enough words to explain how they feel. The Lost for Words campaign gives all children an opportunity, tool and choice to express some of their pain, confusion and advice for others in a creative and age-appropriate way.”

To mark the week, Grief Encounter, which is based in Mill Hill and Finchley, also invited supporters to Go Purple. Businesses turned their shops ‘purple’ and ran collections or donated a percentage of their profits for the week, and many schools invited pupils to come in wearing purple for a small donation, or held special charity fundraising events, such as purple bake sales.

Schools who have taken part include Courtland and Etz Chaim primaries in Mill Hill, Gan Kinneret Nursery in Edgware and De Bohun School in Southgate. Wolfson Hillel Primary in Southgate has also made Grief Encounter their charity of the month.

For more information visit or call the Grief Encounter helpline on 0808 802 0111.