A pair of friends from Devon, who were left devastated by the “sheer terror” of the Grenfell Tower fire in London, are doing something amazing for victims of the blaze.
Kay Gilbert and Angie Mays from Ilfracombe are organising holidays to North Devon for those who lived in the tower block and no longer have anywhere to call home.
The pair have set up a Facebook group called Grenfell Tower Holiday Appeal and say they have been overwhelmed with generous offers from local businesses, including holiday accomodation, free meals at restuarants, entertainment, beauty treatments and even a free photography session for those who lost all their pictures in the blaze.
Kay said: “I had been reading the papers and watching the news, and I just wanted to do something to help. Lots of money had already started to be raised for them, so I thought I could do something different.
“We live in such a beautiful part of the country, that I’m sure a holiday here would give them some respite from having their lives turned upside down. I posted on Facebook what I wanted to do, and straightaway Angie said she would help.
“We are both mothers and were moved to tears at the thought of the sheer terror the residents must have felt. The utter desperation of the mother who threw her baby to safety, children desperate to get out, the confusion and horror of it all – well we just wanted to do something.”
Kay’s first first contact was with Lee Woodward at Green Park Holidays in Ilfracombe.
She said: “Lee helps with a lot of charities. He immediately said yes, and generously donated 10 holiday units – accommodation for 40 people.
“We then set about emailing all the holiday parks and hotels in the area. The response was amazing. We also posted on Facebook and the support of the locals was overwhelming.
“We then decided we could include the firefighters involved – in our eyes they are true heroes. To tackle a fire of that magnitude must have been terrifying and overwhelming.”
Kay said she was inundated with holiday offers from local BBs, guest houses and hotels.
She said: “We have also asked for meal vouchers from local cafes : Johnny C’s diner and Barricaine Beach Cafe were among the first to offer.
“Local shops have offered food packs, beach equipment and toys. We have had offers of beauty treatments, massage therapy, quad bike adventures, tickets from the Combe Martin wildlife park – the list is endless!
“Endenmore Nursing Home in Ilfracombe made an incredible offer of giving a week’s care to someone who needs that extra bit of help if their family are on holiday here.”
Kay said she could not believe the generosity of locals. She said: “The kindness of our community has surpassed our expectations, and we are so grateful for their support.
“The holiday offers are now spreading further afield, with some lovely pledges coming from Lynton and Lynmouth. It’s incredible!
“We have contacted the council in London dealing with the residents, and London fire brigade. So far we have not established a link within their community, as obviously they are all extremely busy.
“We anticipate that the holidays won’t be taken up straightaway as the trauma is still too raw, and they have far more urgent things to deal with right now.
“However, when they do come, I can guarantee our wonderful community will welcome them with open arms, and give them some nice memories to start rebuilding their lives with.
“We can’t thank everyone enough!”
If you wish to help Kay and Angie you can contact them via their Facebook page here.