Grenfell families recharge in Cornwall

There were new experiences on offer for all of the guests. Credit: Esme Page

Families who lived in Grenfell Tower have spoken of their 'natural therapy' received during a week-long break in Cornwall.

62 guests visited Falmouth last week on a holiday organised by the Cornwall Hugs Grenfell project.

This holiday is believed to be the first of its kind in the UK.

The families stayed together at the University of Exeter’s Cornwall campus.

As well as water-sports they enjoyed a farm visit and trips to attractions such as the Eden Project and St Michael’s Mount.

There were also massage and reflexology sessions and a singing workshop.

Pat MacWilliams does work with people who have post-traumatic stress disorder. Credit: Esme Page

The guests are aged between 7 weeks and 64 years with only one person having visited Cornwall before.

They say taking part in activities like paddle-boarding and riding on the ZipWire for the first time has boosted their confidence.

One guest added that being in the county was like experiencing “natural therapy”.

Some guests tried out the zipwire at The Eden Project. Credit: ITV West Country

Mother of two, Hanan Wahabi is a primary school teacher who used to live on the 9th floor of Grenfell Tower.

She lost her brother’s family of five who lived on the 21st floor in the fire.

Cornwall gave me the time and space to deal with my ‘true’ emotions. There was no more suppressing…the calm and gentle atmosphere of Cornwall encouraged me to let out the pain and take in some of the healing.

Hanan Wahabi

Mrs Wahabi also thanks Cornwall Hugs Grenfell and the public for making the trip a memorable experience.

Love to you all who made it happen and to the Cornish people who just smiled and made us feel welcome. God bless you all!

Hanan Wahabi
Hanan and daughter Sara made new friendships and memories. Credit: Esme Page

The 30 children in the group made new friendships as they enjoyed the activities organised for them.

Israa, aged 12, whose family was evacuated from a neighbouring block to Grenfell and has been living in hotel accommodation since the fire, said Cornwall had given everyone “fresh air”.

Coming here takes off like all the bad memories that happened in London. When you come here, in the sun and going to the beach, it takes all that memory off and starts anew. It’s been good for my family because we got to do something we all enjoy.


Cornwall Hugs Grenfell says the week was a resounding success.

This has been a rich, humbling, week, getting to know each other and watching our guests relax in our beautiful surroundings - it’s what we dreamt for them.

Esmé Page, founder, Cornwall Hugs Grenfell
Only one of the guests had been to Cornwall before. Credit: ITV West Country

Cornwall Hugs Grenfell says the event would not have been possible without the 'team effort' provided by local businesses.

Many local organisations involved in the week say they are proud to have taken part.

I was bowled over by the positivity of everyone we took on the water. Young and old, they all wanted to have a go. They’ve been through something unimaginable so doing a tiny something to help build new memories was a privilege.

Dany Duncan, Elemental UK.

Cornwall Hugs Grenfell says the Falmouth group holiday was oversubscribed.

It is aiming to offer another group holiday in the October half term for those who missed out this time.

We’ve been abundantly blessed, by the businesses supporting us, the weather and each other. We’ve shared moving conversations, laughed together, sung together,cried together, prayed together. Many guests have said how healing it has been to re-build something of the community they have lost. It’s been a privilege to begin, what is set to be a lasting connection between Cornwall and those from Grenfell Tower.

Esme Page, founder, Cornwall Hugs Grenfell