The mum who helped Grenfell’s children smile again

The mum who helped Grenfell’s children smile again: She was our inspirational champion of 2017, but only now can we tell the full uplifting story

  • Esme Page, 49, organised a holiday for Grenfell residents and fire fighters
  • The mother-of-two spoke about 367 people benefiting from her initiative
  • She told how being named Woman Of Inspiration encouraged others to help also
  • She says donations allow for her to keep providing trips for families to heal 
  • Esme continues to work a minimum of 35 hours each week unpaid 

Do you know a woman who deserves recognition for her extraordinary strength, bravery or perseverance? Nominate her for our Inspirational Women of the Year Awards, in association with Swarovski. She could be from any walk of life — an exceptional carer, teacher or community champion. Finalists will attend an awards gala in March, in support of YoungMinds, a charity working to improve the mental health of young people. It is part of Heads Together, co-ordinated by The Royal Foundation. 

Kicking the waves as she walked along the seashore, hand in hand with her mum, 12-year-old Aziza broke into a huge smile.

Nothing unusual about a mother and daughter enjoying themselves at the seaside — except it was the first time she’d felt able to show joy since the night she watched Grenfell Tower burn. Although Aziza’s siblings and parents survived, friends and five family members perished in the blaze, leaving her traumatised.

Now, thanks to the kindness of a community and one remarkable woman, Aziza has rediscovered joy and dares to dream of a bright future.

That remarkable woman is our 2017 Inspirational Woman, Esme Page. Like everyone in Britain, the 49-year-old mother of two, from Truro, Cornwall, watched in horror on TV as the tragic events unfolded at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington, London.

Mother-of-two Esme Page, 49, (pictured) shared the inspiration behind her decision to organize a Cornish holiday for people affected by the Grenfell fire

She imagined what it would be like to flee the burning tower, to lose friends and relatives in the flames, or to be a firefighter sent into the horrific inferno.

Then she imagined what a difference it would make to those caught up in the nightmare if they could recover in peace and tranquillity on an old-fashioned seaside holiday in her home county of Cornwall.

So Esme, a life coach, made it happen. On June 20, six days after the tragedy, undaunted by the enormity of what she might be starting, Esme posted a message on Facebook. ‘Imagine if we could put a Cornish holiday on the horizon of every Grenfell resident and firefighter family — a time to rest, a time to let our beautiful county work its gentle magic.’ Now, 18 months later, 367 people, including 178 children, have benefited from her ambition.

They have come as individual families or in groups to enjoy seaside activities, outings to zoos and national parks and lifeboat trips — all provided by her charity Cornwall Hugs Grenfell.

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Besides survivors, displaced neighbours and firefighters, the charity also welcomes those who lost family and friends in the tragedy, which claimed 72 lives.

One of these was Aziza, who arrived in Cornwall in August with her mother and five-year-old brother, Adam — residents of a neighbouring tower to Grenfell.

‘It was a glorious week,’ smiles Esme, who lives with her property manager husband, Rob, 49, and sons, Pax, 11, and Kes, eight.

‘Seeing Aziza smile was wonderful. After the fire, she said she had lost hope. Nowhere seemed to be happy or safe any more. Then she came to Cornwall and the seaside worked its magic.

Esme launched the charity Cornwall Hugs Grenfell after watching the inferno (pictured) unfold on TV while imagining what it would’ve been like to flee the burning tower

Adam, five, (pictured) was a resident of a neighboring tower to Grenfell and became the 300th visitor of Esme’s trips to Cornwall 

‘Her little brother, Adam, turned out to be our 300th visitor which made his happiness extra special. We had a wonderful trip to the Isles of Scilly — organised by the island’s travel company.

‘Adam wants to be a pilot when he grows up. So the pilot welcomed him into the cockpit. As we took to the air, he was beaming. These wonderful memories can’t erase the past. But they can help children build resilience.’ Esme’s dream has grown exponentially since winning our award. Organisations such as the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group, local bus company FirstKernow and the RNLI have offered to help. Hundreds of individuals and smaller businesses, from guesthouses to ice cream parlours, have donated services.

Esme says: ‘When I won the award, I was conscious that I was accepting on behalf of the wonderfully generous people who had leapt on board.’

She still works at least 35 hours a week unpaid for the charity. ‘There’s a huge amount to do, from matching people with accommodation to troubleshooting when guests arrive,’ she says.

However, thanks to donations that have flooded in, the charity now employs two part-time staff. ‘They are my “holiday angels”,’ Esme smiles. ‘It means we can keep providing holidays — giving families a chance to heal.’

Esme (pictured left) revealed donations Cornwall Hugs Grenfell have received have enabled her to employ two part-time staff and continue to offer families a chance to heal 

Esme’s charity have released a solidarity image (pictured) inspired by the children who have enjoyed paddle-boarding as a result of Cornwall Hugs Grenfell 

Among the survivors is ten-year-old Sara, who returned to London with a special memory. Esme arranged for Sara and 20 other survivors and close relatives to take part in an emotional ceremony in the lead-up to the anniversary of the fire in June.

The Penlee lifeboat took them out to sea to cast white roses in memory of lost loved ones.

Also onboard were Marcio and Andreia Gomes, who lived on the tower’s 21st floor. Their baby son, Logan, was stillborn on the night of the fire — becoming Grenfell’s youngest victim.

The week with other survivors was a chance not just to honour Logan’s memory, but to build new, happy memories with their daughters, Megan, 11, and Luana, 13.

Marcio, 39, an IT manager, says ‘This has been an opportunity to recharge our batteries. Seeing our kids have fun and enjoy themselves has been wonderful, thanks to the people of Cornwall.’

Visit to nominate your Inspirational Woman of 2018 

For details or to offer help, go to To donate, text HUGS19 to 70070. 

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