MORE than 200 people gathered for the opening of a new holiday home for families with sick relatives.
Hannah’s Holiday Home Appeal is a charity set up in memory of Hannah Westbrook who died in 2004 from Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
It was such a happy atmosphere and it was great that we could celebrate in Hannah’s memoryPam Marshall
Since then, Hannah’s mother Pam Marshall, who established the appeal, has been offering free holidays to other families affected by illness or the loss of a loved one at holiday homes in Oakdene and on Hayling Island.
‘The experience we had with Hannah made us realise that quality family time is really treasured and it’s nice to be able to offer something like that to people,’ said Pam.
The opening of the appeal’s third holiday home in Milford on Sea marked what would have been Hannah’s 21st birthday and drew people from around the area.
‘It was such a happy atmosphere and it was great that we could celebrate in Hannah’s memory,’ added Pam.
The day began with a group including friends and family members, mayor of Havant Marjorie Smallcorn, and staff from Southampton General Hospital, where Hannah was treated, meeting at the clubhouse on the new holiday site.
The group, led by Pam’s son Adam, 20, and daughter Grace, eight, then walked down to the new home where a ribbon was cut and 400 balloons, with notes attached for lost loved ones, were released.
Attendees then had a tour of the house and as a special gesture a friend of the family had made a 21st birthday cake for Hannah.
‘People were absolutely amazed by the new house and it was overwhelming really,’ said Pam, of Horndean.
On Saturday evening, Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower was illuminated in an array of rainbow colours to celebrate the special date in honour of Hannah.
‘It’s such a landmark for Portsmouth so it was brilliant,’ said Pam, who went on to explain how Hannah would spend her time fundraising during her illness.
‘We had a couple of apple and pear trees in our garden and she would sell them to neighbours and friends.
‘She raised more than £10,000 in all.’
The holiday home appeal relies on volunteers and each holiday home costs £12,000 a year to keep.
Since the appeal began, more than 400 families have been helped, with 69 families booked for holidays this year.
Pam, who works as an office manager at a nursery and runs the appeal in her spare time, expressed her gratitude.
‘Thank you to everybody who supported us. Every pound and every penny makes a huge difference.
‘The more we can raise, the more smiles we can put back on people’s faces.’