Wednesday 18 September 2019

'It gives people the sense that grief for everyone is different' - Venetia Quick on podcast she set up after husband's sudden death

Venetia Quick and her late husband Martin Thomas
Photo: Peter Houlihan
Venetia Quick and her late husband Martin Thomas Photo: Peter Houlihan
Venetia Quick with her family

Esther McCarthy

Top broadcaster Venetia Quick has told how the loss of her beloved husband Martin Thomas led to her setting up a bereavement podcast that has been "incredibly therapeutic".

Martin, who ran hugely popular Dublin club night Strictly Handbag, died very suddenly at their family home last year. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer just months earlier. The club night returns to the Sugar Club for one night next month.

In his memory, and in a bid to help her through her own grief, she set up the podcast, called Grief Encounters, which features interviews with others who have lost loved ones and covers everything from miscarriage to planning your funeral.

The podcast, which Venetia co-presents with Sasha Hamrogue and has also included interviews with stars like Marco Pierre White and Nuala Carey, now regularly charts in the Irish top ten podcasts. "We started it last December and we've been doing it weekly since then. It's been amazing and something incredibly therapeutic. There seems to have been a gap where there was nothing there," the Q102 breakfast show presenter told the Sunday World.

Venetia Quick and her late husband Martin Thomas on their wedding day
Venetia Quick and her late husband Martin Thomas on their wedding day

Venetia says one of the very first people that featured gave her a sense of hope.

Kathleen Chada's two sons, Eoghan and Ruairi, were killed by their father Sanjeev.

Venetia Quick with sons Felix Quick-Thomas aged 11, Arlo Quick-Thomas aged 6 and Casper Quick-Thomas aged 4. Pic. Bryan Meade 6/7/2016
Venetia Quick with sons Felix Quick-Thomas aged 11, Arlo Quick-Thomas aged 6 and Casper Quick-Thomas aged 4. Pic. Bryan Meade 6/7/2016

"After hearing her story it helps you realise when you see somebody like her, still carrying on and going from strength to strength, it proves to you that you can get there.

"We've talked to people about miscarriage, cancer, we try to have a bit of humour in it as well. We've talked to undertakers about how people can plan for their funerals. It's a sense of community where people can share their stories and know that they're not alone.

Venetia Quick with her family
Venetia Quick with her family

"It covers different topics. It gives people the sense that grief for everyone is different. It seems to have become a community and place where people can go. There are so many stories of people who've managed to keep pushing forward."

Well-known guests on the show, produced by Ian Doyle, have included broadcaster Nuala Carey, who spoke about the loss of her father, and Marco Pierre White, who told how his mother's death impacted on him.

Venetia and Martin, who married and had three boys - Casper, Felix and Arlo - first met at a fun event in Dublin's POD nightclub, where Venetia was modelling for a designer friend and Martin, who'd just started another club night called Strictly Fish, was doing the music.

They were introduced and started chatting and as she puts it: "That was that. He was very funny. The first thing that struck me about him was his sense of humour. He was smart, incredibly kind. He would do anything for anybody. He was very, very good to other people. He was hugely family orientated."

Martin subsequently set up the Monday club night Strictly Handbag in The Kitchen nightclub in the Clarence Hotel, which was then owned by U2, 26 years ago. It quickly became the hottest ticket in the capital.

"You would always meet somebody you knew. It started off in The Kitchen, Bono used to go there a lot. Around that time there were a lot of films being made in Dublin and you didn't know who you might meet."

The club night moved to Rí Rá on George's Street before, like many late events, falling victim to both the recession and a change in licensing laws. Martin continued to run it occasionally until late 2017, when he was diagnosed with an inoperable form of lung cancer.

Doctors told the couple they couldn't cure the disease but that they could maintain it, but Martin died suddenly just five months later at home.

"Casper was five at the time and I was bringing him to football. He seemed fine, it just never would have crossed my mind. He collapsed at home and he died at home. My two oldest kids were there with him."

Venetia is now organising a Strictly Handbag night in her husband's memory, which will take place in the Sugar Club on September 21, and is sponsored by Des Kelly Interiors. All funds will go to The Martin Thomas Trust in association with Jigsaw, which supports youth mental health.

"Martin suffered from anxiety so I looked at doing something with Jigsaw and set up a trust in association with Jigsaw called the One Good School initiative. Mental health is such a huge issue in Ireland at the moment and I felt very strongly that this is where he'd want the fundraising to go."

via Sunday World

Irish Independent

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