Emotional day as new home opens in Hannah’s memory

CHEERS Celebrating the opening of the new holiday home on Hayling Island, from left, Kev Stokes, Rosie Thorn and Hannah's mum Pam Marshall, Grace Marshall and Colin Marshall.  Picture: Ian Hargreaves (120870-2)
CHEERS Celebrating the opening of the new holiday home on Hayling Island, from left, Kev Stokes, Rosie Thorn and Hannah's mum Pam Marshall, Grace Marshall and Colin Marshall. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (120870-2)
Cllr Steve Wemyss, Paul Huntley, Alistair Thompson, Father John Maunder and Sammy Barcroft Picture: Vernon Nash

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THERE were tears of sadness and joy at the opening of a luxury holiday home on what would have been the 18th birthday of the little girl who inspired the charity.

Hannah Westbrook died aged 10 after battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

THANKS Gill Wilkinson with her daughter Atlanta Aquilana who benefitted from using one of the holiday homes.  Picture: Ian Hargreaves (120870-1)

THANKS Gill Wilkinson with her daughter Atlanta Aquilana who benefitted from using one of the holiday homes. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (120870-1)

In the dark times after her beloved daughter’s death Pam Marshall sought comfort by setting up Hannah’s Holiday Home.

It gave families in similar situations the chance to have a free holiday in a luxury static home in the New Forest as an opportunity to relax together during distressing times.

Yesterday Mrs Marshall was joined by 300 family and friends after a fundraising drive enabled them to buy another luxury lodge in Hayling Island Holiday Park.

To mark the opening and Hannah’s birthday hundreds of pink, white and blue balloons were released, each bearing a little note with birthday wishes for Hannah.

There to support her were families who had benefited from a stay at the New Forest home.

One of those was 16-year-old Atlanta Aquilina, from Prospect Lane, Havant.

She was diagnosed with leukaemia aged nine and during the tough times she enjoyed several happy holidays with her family thanks to Mrs Marshall.

She said: ‘I finished treatment five years ago and I’m fine now.

‘It’s your friends and family that help you through it. It’s such a horrible time.

‘Pam got in touch with us after seeing our story in The News. We were so grateful because it was just what we needed.’

Atlanta’s mother Gill Wilkinson said; ‘Pam is amazing. She coped by looking to the future and has helped so many other families.’

Mrs Marshall, from Horndean, and her close friends on the charity committee managed to raise £50,000 to buy the property.

She said: ‘It has been an emotional day because it’s Hannah’s birthday too.

‘Obviously we wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for her.

‘I want to thank everyone who has helped us along the way. There are so many people out there who always support us.’