Ipswich pair’s tribute to Death Café founder who inspired them to bring movement to Suffolk

Jon Underwood. Picture: Death Café

Jon Underwood. Picture: Death Café - Credit: Archant

Organisers of the newly opened death café in Ipswich have paid tribute to the founder of the movement.

Carolyn Turner, who helped to launch the first Ipswich Death Café. Picture: GEMMA MITCHELL

Carolyn Turner, who helped to launch the first Ipswich Death Café. Picture: GEMMA MITCHELL - Credit: Archant

Father-of-two Jon Underwood, who set up Death Café in 2011 to promote discussions about mortality, died suddenly from undiagnosed leukaemia late last month.

Death cafés bring strangers together to eat cake, drink tea and talk openly about dying.

Inspired by the 44-year-old from Hackney, Carolyn Turner and David Warner set up the first Ipswich café back in January.

Paying tribute to Mr Underwood on the café’s Facebook page, Ms Turner wrote: “I heard the sad news that the founder of the Death Café movement, Jon Underwood, has died suddenly.

“He was 44. I met him recently at a Death Café event at Sutton Hoo - I felt he was a very warm, kind and deep thinking man.”

Tributes for Mr Underwood have poured in since his sister Jools Barsky shared news of his death.

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He leaves behind his wife Donna and two young children.

Donna said: “Jon was uniquely and unusually aware that life is short and appreciated his life fully, reflecting on this through daily practice.

“He lived every day reflecting very consciously on the fact that none of us know how long we have and focused completely on being present in, and making the most of, every minute.”

She added: “He has single-handedly changed cultures around death and end of life awareness, not just in the UK, but across the globe.”

There are now 4,806 Death Cafes in 51 countries, with nearly 950 in the UK.

They spread outside the country in 2012 when a guide book was picked up by Lizzy Miles in Columbus, Ohio.

• The Ipswich Death Café meets once a month at La Tour Cycle Café in Tower Street. Entry is free but places must be booked on Eventbrite.

More information is available on the group’s Facebook page.