100 hand-made quilts for Grenfell Tower Survivors in the South West
Cornwall Hugs Grenfell has begun distribution to families affected by Grenfell Tower fire of of over 100 quilts made by South West Quilters (SWQ). This weekend saw the first Cornwall Hugs Grenfell guests choose their quilts from the dedicated page in Guests’ Corner on Cornwall Hugs Grenfell’s website. There each quilt is shown with its size, maker and creation location in all corners of Devon and Cornwall: www.cornwallhugsgrenfell.org/quilt-gifts
The patchwork quilts take over 150 hours to stitch and are valued at £100-500 a piece. Each is unique, designed at home by 100 ladies in the 600 strong association, who began stitching shortly after Grenfell Tower Fire. SWQ recently approached Esmé Page, founder of Cornwall Hugs Grenfell to find a way to safely and respectfully offer the gifts to the survivors.
In a moving encounter Cornwall Hugs Grenfell arranged for survivors from the ninth floor, Hanan Wahabi and her daughter Sara Chebiouni to receive their patchwork quilts in person from Jenni Milne, chair of South West Quilters, during the family’s half-term respite break in Mousehole, organised by the project. Masda Metalsi and her family, also from the ninth floor holidayed in Newlyn and also chose a quilt and spent several hours with Jenni and vice chair Lynda.
‘We have over 80 affected families registered for holidays and we immediately wanted to help SWQ get these beautiful gifts to the right people,’ said Esmé Page, founder of Cornwall Hugs Grenfell. ‘Hours of love have been stitched into every blanket and each holds something of the West Country, which is now so special to our Grenfell guests. The quilts will brighten and personalise the sterile hotel rooms where survivors have been living and will be their first home decorations when they finally move to permanent accommodation. These are so much more than quilts - they’re tangible love and a memory of the sea you can touch and cuddle up in.’
‘It will be really nice to snuggle with,’ said Sara Chebiouni, on receiving the blue and turquoise quilt she chose from the Cornwall Hugs Grenfell website, ‘It will be like a souvenir and I will use it a lot. I love the patterns on it and the fish and the fact that it’s blue - I love blue!’ ‘I feel so emotional thinking of the love we’ve been shown this week in Cornwall,’ said Masda Metalsi who holidayed with her husband Zayne and three year old twins Miriam and Salahadin. 'This quilt is really special and will always be a reminder of the holiday and the kindness of strangers in Cornwall.’
‘I know the members will have imagined the families all the time while they were stitching but we never dreamt we’d be able to meet them,’ said Jenni Milne, chair of SWQ. ‘It was very touching to see how much the quilts meant to them. I know all our members will be thrilled to know that all their care and love is travelling up to London with the guests.’
‘Cornwall Hugs Grenfell has been a community effort right from the start and this is another beautiful example of our community giving of its skills and love,’ said Esmé Page.
Thinking bigger - next steps for Cornwall Hugs Grenfell
Begun just days after the Grenfell tragedy with a simple Facebook post, Cornwall Hugs Grenfell, through the county’s generosity, has now brought 130+ firefighter and Grenfell guests to Cornwall on holiday for peace, respite and hope. Over 400 guests are still waiting to come. To fund transport for a much needed administrator Cornwall Hug Grenfell is now bidding for £25,000 of Aviva Community Funding. Readers can support this bid by placing their votes, following the link on the project’s home page: www.cornwallhugsgrenfell.org ‘So many families are in desperate need of the hope on the horizon and the gentle healing that a holiday in Cornwall and the kindness of strangers can offer,’ said Esmé Page. ‘We’re so grateful for the community’s support so far and hope they can help us win this funding to make this a reality for these families in 2018.’
Aside from voting for Aviva funding, personal monetary donations are invited via: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/cornwallhugsgrenfellphase2 and those with holiday let accommodation or vouchers to attractions to offer can pledge on the project’s website:
Esmé Page via firstname.lastname@example.org 07803 594 285
Jenni Milne, South West Quilters: email@example.com
1. Jenni Milne with Tower survivors, 9 year old Sara Chebiouni and her mother Hanan Wahabi
2. Jenni Milne and Lynda Shinner-Booth, South West Quilters with Esmé Page, Cornwall Hugs Grenfell
3. Twins Miriam and Salahadin on the night they received their quilt
Note to editors:
Cornwall Hugs Grenfell is a voluntary organisation set up by Esmé Page and began with a vision set out in a Facebook post on June 20th, ‘Imagine if we could put a Cornish holiday on the horizon of every Grenfell resident and firefighter family: a time to rest, a time to let our beautiful county bless these people and work its gentle magic.’ Since then the project has gathered 250+ pledges of accommodation and has been supported by over 100 local businesses with vouchers for attractions, services and meals. Over 130 guests have holidayed with the project so far both in individual holiday cottages and on a group holiday to Falmouth. By the end of the year 200 guests will have visited. The project is set to run until 2019.
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