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Steamship Group approached Grenfell charity

The Isles of Scilly Steamship Group approached the Cornwall Hugs Grenfell charity with an offer of free transport for people affected by the fire.

The Chaer-Yemlahi family, who lost five relatives in the June 2017 blaze, recently became the first to visit the islands as part of a free respite holiday.

Five year old Adam was the 300th guest to travel to Cornwall through Cornwall Hugs Grenfell.

He and his family stayed in Marazion for the week and enjoyed the charity’s first day trip to Scilly after the ISSG's offer, which inspired other islands businesses to make their own donations.

After their free flight - including a tour of the cockpit for Adam - he and father Billal, mother Touraya and sisters Aziza, 12, and Salima, 8, enjoyed a close encounter with the cows (and bull) on Troytown Farm, St Agnes and had the chance to sample their ice-cream. This was followed by a family kayak ride with St Agnes Watersports.

Cornwall Hugs Grenfell gathers one week pledges from accommodation providers and businesses in Cornwall to give firefighters and Grenfell residents the hope of a holiday.

The Steamship Group's pledge of transport came as families prepared to give evidence at the Grenfell public enquiry, which resumed on Monday.

"Isles of Scilly Travel's gift unlocks the tranquility and hospitality of the islands to our guests, who are so in need of both," said charity founder Esmé Page, adding that more than 40 survivors are waiting for a break, as well as over 150 others affected by the tragedy.

"The islanders have a long history of welcoming strangers in difficult times and Adam’s family could not get over the peace and kindness they felt there, in just one day. The islands are a kind of a sensory antidote to the trauma and loss they’re going through and these new family experiences can bring some hope as they return to the worries of tower block-living and the daunting prospect of the enquiry. If they can take a little bit of that Scilly magic home in their memories, we’ll all know it has been worth it."

The Chaer-Yemlahi family commented repeatedly on the peace and beauty on the islands.

"There are no sirens here. You can just feel the peace settle all around you. You can look at photos of the islands but you don’t feel how it really is until you’re here,’ said dad Billal, who watched the fire take hold of Grenfell Tower from his nearby tower block, knowing two parts of his close family were inside. One branch of the family from the 9th floor escaped but Billal lost his uncle, aunt and their three children from the 21st floor.

He added: "It’s helped us enjoy ourselves individually and as a family, something we find hard to do due to the constant reminders of the Grenfell fire where we live."

Looking at the houses lining the beach at Little Porth, 12-year-old Aziza said: "There are no towers here. If there’s a problem, the people can just get out. I don’t like living in a tower anymore… it’s scary. There could be a fire at anytime."

Sharon Sandercock, Marketing Communications Manager for Isles of Scilly Steamship Group said: “Partnering with Cornwall Hugs is a humbling and rich experience, getting to know more about the charity and seeing how these families can benefit from the Scillies environment and peace. It’s an absolute pleasure to be able to bring a little bit of fun into their lives. We look forward to bringing other families to Scilly and we’d like to thank the island-based businesses for partnering with us on this project to enrich the lives of others."

With plans to bring more Grenfell families to Scilly during October and May half-terms, businesses and accommodation providers who would like to join the vision are encouraged to contact Isles of Scilly Travel or register their pledge via CHG’s website .

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