A UNIQUE bereavement service helping children and young people will close this summer, it has been confirmed.

Following enquiries by the Western Telegraph, Hywel Dda Health Board has confirmed that Sandy Bear - a specialist grief service based in Neyland - will close in June.

In a statement issued this morning, a spokesman said: "The Sandy Bear Service will end in June 2016 as a commissioned service.

"We continue our work with Pembrokeshire County Council and other partners to explore new opportunities for bereavement services for children young people and their families."

Concerns about the future of the service arose last month, igniting a passionate online campaign to save it.

A petition started by Johnston mum Nina Evans, whose young son had been helped by Sandy Bear, attracted almost 4,000 signatures, and more than 400 people changed their social media profiles to raise awareness of the service.

The decision to ‘review’ the service was prompted by cuts in government funding to Pembrokeshire County Council, which pays Hywel Dda Health Board around £50,000 a year to deliver the service.

In its latest statement, a spokesman for the county council said: “No decision has yet been made by the council with regard to the continued funding of the Emotional Health and Well Being service, but a range of options are due to be discussed in a meeting to be held shortly with the Hywel Dda University Health Board.”

Sandy Bear costs around £60,000 a year, and employs two members of staff.

As of March 30, 42 young people were currently receiving support from Sandy Bear, and the health board has promised: "All the young people currently using the service will continue to receive a service from the core bereavement service and will not be disadvantaged in any way."

It adds: "Bereavement services will continue to be delivered and further developed with our partners.

"Within Pembrokeshire, we have an emotional health and well-being service, commissioned by Pembrokeshire County Council, which is delivered by highly qualified professionals who are able to offer a range of therapeutic interventions."