Essex

Coronavirus: Grace Millane's family donate care packages in her memory

Grace Millane Image copyright Lucie Blackman Trust
Image caption Grace Millane's family have donated hundreds of care packages to hospitals in her memory

The family of a British backpacker murdered in New Zealand has given hundreds of care packages to patients, nurses, doctors and carers battling coronavirus.

Grace Millane's family has donated more than 300 bags full of toiletries to hospitals and care homes across Essex.

The 22-year-old from Wickford in Essex was killed in December 2018.

Her cousin said it was nice to be doing "something so positive" in her name.

Image copyright Love Grace x
Image caption These carers said the bags had given them a boost when they really needed it

Hannah O'Callaghan said: "We've had so many messages thanking us, it's been lovely to read them as a family. It is helping us get through some difficult times and given us a purpose."

The family set up a campaign called Love Grace x, focused on domestic abuse victims, before the coronavirus pandemic.

It had already donated 6,500 handbags packed with toiletries to refuges across the world, including many in New Zealand.

Seven family members have been involved, including Gillian Millane, Grace's mother.

Image copyright Love Grace x
Image caption The bags are delivered with a tag which has Grace's handwriting and a flower that she drew, on one side
Image copyright Love Grace x
Image caption The other side has a note explaining what happened to Grace and more about the initiative
Image copyright Love Grace x
Image caption Medics said they were moved to tears after receiving the care packages

Mrs O'Callaghan said: "Grace would have been really proud of us. She would have wanted to get involved. She was more like a little sister to me than a cousin. She was very family-orientated and we had so many happy times together as a family.

"I'm a Geography teacher and she loved to travel, we had that in common. She was very good at art, so it was important to us to reflect that on the tags."

Image caption Grace's cousin Hannah O'Callaghan (left) and mother Gillian Millane (right) wanted to do something positive in her name
Image caption More than 6500 handbags have been donated to refuges across the world

The bags are delivered with a tag which says "Love Grace x" in Grace's handwriting and a flower that she drew, on one side. The other side has a note explaining what happened to her and more about the initiative.

Domestic abuse victims have been in touch with the family to thank them. Many had to leave home in a rush and had no toiletries, while others had never owned a handbag before, Mrs O'Callaghan said.

"We want to go back to concentrating on refuges when this is over. Domestic violence is rising during the lockdown, and I think the handbags will be needed more than ever.

"We are asking people who might be having a spring clean to keep their old handbags and take them to one of our collection points when restrictions are lifted," she said.

Find BBC News: East of England on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you have a story suggestion email eastofenglandnews@bbc.co.uk

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites