CHG thinks BIGGER for 2018 - seeks £25K in funding
This week saw 30 guests, including firefighters, Tower survivors and those from the evacuated blocks come to Cornwall for respite and relaxation as guests of Cornwall Hugs Grenfell. The guests stayed in donated holiday lets, with a cluster in the Mounts Bay area. As part of the stay, two survivor families from the 9th floor enjoyed a tour of the Penlee Lifeboat by Cox Patch Harvey.
The visit fulfilled the dream of of three year old Salahadin, accompanied by his twin Miriam. Salahadin, was later heard to shout. ‘That’s MY boat!’ as the lifeboat left the harbour. Guided by cox Patrick Harvey, the guests spent time learning about the history and current day life of the station. Everyone was clearly moved by the tragedy of the Solomone Browne. These are the first Grenfell Tower survivors to visit the lifeboat.
Reflecting on the visit with Patch, Esmé Page, founder of Cornwall Hugs Grenfell commented, ‘You would not think Kensington and Cornwall have much in common but both have a deep sense of community and know how to support each other in times of crisis and loss. It’s made Salahadin’s holiday and a wonderful new memory for him. Our warmest thanks to the whole crew.’
‘It was an absolute pleasure to have the Grenfell guys come by. After all they have been through, it’s the least we could do,’ said Patrick Harvey, Cox, ‘I wouldn’t be surprised to see young Salahadin come back in a few years time to join the crew!’
A very special family portrait in Mousehole
Esmé Page remarked on the warm welcome all the families experienced and expressed her thanks to locals who gave up time and skills to care for the families. ‘On the last day, we had a very beautiful moment when international photographer (and co-incidentally, Ivan Ellen crew member) Chris Yacoubian agreed spontaneously to take a portrait for Hanan Wahabi and her daughter Sara,’ said Esmé. ‘This was a poignant offer, given that they lost all their family photos in the fire. They will treasure this picture, set in what has become a special place for the family.’
What the half-term holidays have meant to survivors
Hanan Wahabi, came for respite and peace, having finally buried all five members of her brother Abdelaziz El Wahabi’s family just two weeks ago. Abdelaziz, a hospital porter, lived on the 21st floor and perished with his entire family. The Wahabis stayed in Mousehole, another dream come true for Sara (9) who studied The Mousehole Cat at school. Commenting on the slower pace, friendly locals and beauty of the historic village, Hanan said simply. ‘I just feel I can breathe here.’
Another family, stayed in Gulval. Mother, Lucy, spoke of her gratitude to the host and Cornwall Hugs Grenfell, ‘It was a very welcome break for us all. My son who is four, has been very affected by the Grenfell tragedy as several children he knew died. We were evacuated as we live under the tower and unfortunately he witnessed and heard, as we did, some terrible things which he still talks about. He was only playing with five of his buddies on the Tuesday and then the fire happened in the early hours of Wednesday. It's hard when your four year old asks if his friend died in the fire and if that’s why he doesn't see him anymore. Bless you both for your kindness.’
Hosts reflect on the experience
Hosts commented on how rewarding it was to offer their holiday homes, ‘Being a part of ‘Cornwall Hugs Grenfell’ was very straight forward,’ said host, Tamsin Woodhead, who offered her property to Lucy’s family of four. ‘Lucy was clearly delighted to have something for her and her family to look forward to - which pleased me too! When they arrived Lucy’s son so excited to be going to the beach and they didn’t mind storm Brian adding some drama to the start of their holiday. They left the cottage spotless and left me a big box of chocolates.’ Vickie Hugh-Jones who gave her holiday cottage in Mousehole said, “The whole experience has been an absolute delight, from dealing with Esmé through to visiting our guests in person. It was worth every moment to feel their appreciation and love for our house and Mousehole and hear of the peace and calm they had experienced.”
Moving encounter with South West Quilters to receive hand-made gifts
On the penultimate day, Cornwall Hugs Grenfell arranged for survivor families to meet with South West Quilters to receive hand-made quilts, designed especially for Tower families by the group. These unique quilts are now available for survivors to select from www.cornwallhugsgrenfell.org guests’ corner. (please see separate PR09).
Thinking bigger - next steps for Cornwall Hugs Grenfell
Cornwall Hugs Grenfell 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 Hugs Grenfell is now bidding for £25,000 of Aviva Community Funding in the ‘building community’ category.
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 (private number)
1. The Wahabi family with cox, Patrick Harvey
2. Salahadin Metalsi (3) aboard ‘his’ boat, Ivan Ellen
3. Hanan Wahabi and daughter Sara in Mousehole, photographed by professional photographer Chris Yacoubian who donated his time for a special mother/daughter portrait
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. This Summer and half-term the organisation has arranged numerous holidays for families in individual holiday cottages as well as the Falmouth group holiday and upcoming group holiday in Porthtowan. The project is set to run until 2019.
Follow us on twitter: @cornwallhugs
On Facebook: Cornwall Hugs Grenfell