16 March 2020

Former England and Manchester United footballer Rio Ferdinand, and his wife, former TOWIE star Kate Ferdinand (née Wright), have become Patrons of national charity Child Bereavement UK. The charity helps children, parents and families to rebuild their lives when a child grieves or when a child dies.

Rio first came to Child Bereavement UK in 2016 when filming his first BAFTA-winning BBC documentary Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad, where he met young people supported by the charity. The bereaved young people gave Rio tips on how to talk to his own children following the death of their mum, Rebecca, in 2015. At the time Rio talked about how the tools and techniques he had learned from the charity had turned things "from dark to light" in helping him and his children open up about their feelings and begin to process their grief as a family.

In 2017 Rio said:

I think the work that Child Bereavement UK do is phenomenal. The environment I’m from doesn’t do reaching out and emotional talking. Once I had broken that down and realised that I needed that help to help my children, I saw the benefit straight away.

Rio subsequently took part in Child Bereavement UK’s award-winning #OneMoreMinute film campaign with contributors supported by Child Bereavement UK alongside other bereaved celebrity friends of the charity including its Patrons Mary Berry and Jason Watkins; and the charity’s Royal Patron, The Duke of Cambridge.

Kate and Rio’s joint involvement with Child Bereavement UK came when the couple came to the charity to film BBC1’s follow-up documentary: Rio And Kate: Becoming A Stepfamily which aired on 10 February. The documentary explores the challenges as Kate integrates into the family and becomes a stepmum to his three children. The couple join a discussion group at Child Bereavement UK’s Buckinghamshire bereavement service where some of the children and young people supported by the charity give Rio and Kate advice based on what helped them. Rio’s three children then take part in a group for bereaved young people at the charity’s East London service. Rio’s children discuss wanting to return to Child Bereavement UK, with Kate describing it as “a way to make them feel lighter" and Rio saying "It was too good not to take them back.”

Child Bereavement UK’s Chief Executive, Ann Chalmers said:

It has been a privilege to welcome Rio and Kate to Child Bereavement UK. They have both been so open to share with, and learn from, bereaved young people and families we support. We are very grateful that Rio and Kate have become Patrons of Child Bereavement UK and for their continuing commitment to shine a spotlight on the issues that many widowed parents we support face around the complexity of parenting their bereaved children and stepchildren.

Kate and Rio join a number of other well-known Patrons of the charity including Nick Knowles, Claudia Winkleman, Marina and Ben Fogle, Alan Titchmarsh, Gary Barlow, Jason Watkins, Joey Essex, and Mary Berry. HRH The Duke of Cambridge became Child Bereavement UK’s Royal Patron in 2009.

On becoming Patron, Kate and Rio said:

It’s been a huge shift for us reaching out to Child Bereavement UK, and what we’ve gained as a family has been invaluable. We’re both delighted to become Patrons of Child Bereavement UK and to be able to continue to raise awareness of the charity’s phenomenal work.

Child Bereavement UK offers support to bereaved children, young people, parents and families via its national helpline and from its bases in Glasgow, Cumbria, Cheshire, Leeds, Buckinghamshire and London.