Essex

Grace Millane: Handbags donated to refuges in backpacker's memory

Hannah O'Callaghan and Gillian Millane
Image caption Grace Millane's family said they wanted to do something positive in her name

The family of a backpacker who was killed have been collecting handbags to donate to women who are victims of domestic violence.

Grace Millane's family and friends have been filling donated bags with essential and luxury items.

The 22-year-old from Wickford in Essex went missing in Auckland on 1 December. Her body was found a week later.

Her cousin Hannah O'Callaghan said the family had wanted to do something in her name to "give her a legacy".

She said the idea started out when they saw a social media post about filling a handbag with items for homeless women.

Image copyright Lucie Blackman Trust
Image caption Grace Millane had been travelling alone in New Zealand

Mrs O'Callaghan, 37, said: "We thought it was a great idea and thought 'how could we do something similar in Grace's name?'.

"A lot of women leave home without anything, they pack for their children but not for themselves.

"Whilst they get given the necessities, they don't have the luxuries.

"All of us have a handbag with everything in and we thought 'what a perfect thing for them to have'.

"It helps that Grace loved a handbag as well."

Image caption More than 500 handbags have been donated to the cause, Hannah O'Callaghan said

More than 500 bags have already been donated to the campaign, called Love Grace x, exceeding the family's initial target of 50.

Some of them have come from as far away as Manchester and Newcastle while a friend has started a collection point in Lincoln, where Miss Millane studied.

Mrs O'Callaghan said: "It has been extremely difficult as a family and doing something like this is helping us get together, giving us something to focus on and it is helping others, which is all we can hope to achieve out of what we have been through."

There are four collection points for Love Grace x across Essex at Club Kingswood in Basildon, The Fox and Hounds Pub in Ramsden Heath, The Pyramid Centre in Thurrock and Hemming Too Stores in Ramsden Bellhouse.

A man, who cannot be named, has been charged with Miss Millane's murder and is set to go on trial in New Zealand on 4 November.

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Image caption Handbags are filled with basic items such as toothpaste as well as luxuries such as make up and perfume

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