Friday, 23 August 2019

Seaside holiday fit for original Henley hero

Seaside holiday fit for original Henley hero

THE woman who inspired the annual Henley Heroes Awards has returned from a seaside holiday she was given as a reward.

Jill Hall shared the mini-break in Newquay with her six-year-old granddaughter Lexi Baron-Owen and Lexi’s mother Jenny.

The trio stayed four nights with bed and beakfast at a hotel overlooking Fistral Beach.

The free trip, which was organised by Giles Hoff, managing director of Savile Row Travel in Henley, also included their train fares plus £100 a day spending money.

Mrs Hall, 58, who lives off Peppard Lane, returned home on Friday having had an “amazing” time.

She said: “We had a big family room and the staff at the hotel were amazing. When we put Lexi to bed they provided glasses of milk and cookies and copies of bedtime stories.  

“The food was so good but there is only so much you can eat when you have a giant breakfast. I have diabetes so I could only have a certain amount of carbs.”

Mrs Hall said she enjoyed watching Lexi go swimming in the sea and that she was thoroughly spoiled. “We got sunburnt but we went in the sea and it was great,” she said. “Lexi swam and we got a fishing net and went rock pooling.

“It was just a real chill-out holiday allowing Lexi to do what she wanted. Just being with her and seeing her reaction to everything was great.

“I would never have been able to afford to take her on holiday, so I’m so grateful.

“I want to thank everybody who was involved who thought the work that I do was worthy.”

Mrs Hall has been attending the Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide support group since her husband took his own life in 2009 and took charge when the previous leader stepped down four years ago.

She has worked as a kitchen supervisor at Trinity Primary School since 2010 and runs a gardening group there.

She used to run a mother and toddler group at the Christ Church Centre in Reading Road and prepared bacon butties for the fathers’ group at the d:two centre in Upper Market Place. It was there that she met Mr Hoff who came up with the idea of the Henley Heroes after hearing her story.

Mrs Hall received an award and prize at the first ceremony last year.   She recalled: “I was totally shocked to be told I was the inspiration for the awards as a lot of people do a lot of things for others in Henley and I was so touched that somebody could recognise me for doing what I do.

“Giles came and sat with me at the end and gave me a gold envelope which he told me to open when I got home. I was on cloud nine.”

When she opened it and saw it was a trip to Portugal, she knew she couldn’t accept it.

Mrs Hall said: “I was very grateful but I just couldn’t take it because I am afraid of flying.

“I felt terrible for days afterwards and it took me a few months to see Giles to tell him.

“When I did I said I had a granddaughter, who I am only able to see once a year as she lives in north Wales.

“I asked him whether there could be somewhere in England by the seaside I could go with with her and her mummy and he came back to me with the trip to Newquay, which was
wonderful.

“I really am so thankful to Giles, to the Henley Standard and everybody involved on the committee who organise the awards. I will certainly keep volunteering — I love it.”

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