Holidays

Criticism of Cornish holidays for Grenfell tower fire victims condemned as heartless. What do you think? (From This is The West Country)

A letter from Pauline O’Brien in last week’s Packet about Cornish holidays for Grenfell victims has been criticised as heartless by other letter writers. Pauline’s letter is printed below followed by the two replies. Who’s right? Pauline OBrien or her critics. Let us know in the comments below or on the Packet Facebook page.

“I READ with interest a letter in The Packet concerning a proposal that we give free holidays to the survivors of the recent tragic Grenfell Tower fire.

They, of course have my sympathy, but that is as far as it goes I’m afraid.

And I say this to the do gooder who came up with the idea: There are a lot of holiday resorts near where these unfortunate people live. Why not one of those?

I appreciate that money doesn’t always compensate for a life but quite a few, if not all, have been given fairly large sums of money already and court cases are pending. All well and good one hopes.

As to the idea of approaching local taxi drivers and firms for free rides etc, I personally feel sorry for those drivers. They have a tough life sitting waiting for fares, driving for hours and accepting fares who are not always sweetness and light.

As for approaching the cafe and restaurant owners, the season in this town is short.

For all these people they also work hard and all have to face

a lean winter.

So, whoever you are, think on. Then again, hang on you might get a gong from the Queen.

Not impressed by a good old Cornish woman.

Pauline O’Brien

Laburnum Close,

Falmouth

Were followed by these replies in this week’s Packet:

I was deeply saddened to read last week’s letter from “a good old Cornish woman” expressing her displeasure about the free holidays being organised for the survivors of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

We should all be proud of the generous offers being made by individual people of Falmouth and by the various institutions and businesses who have “gone the extra mile” to provide holidays for these unimaginably traumatised people.

In my world, kindness, empathy and compassion are qualities which make life worth living and it grieves me to think that some people think so very differently.

We are lucky to live in such a beautiful, and generally peaceful, part of the world and we should be glad to share our good fortune with others especially those who have endured such suffering.

I would also point out that the season in Falmouth is not particularly short for cafe and restaurant owners – unlike many other seaside resorts, we are lucky enough to be busy all year round.

Most owners I’m sure will have donated willingly because most people are good and want to help even if only in a small way.

The person who spawned the idea of offering free holidays should be applauded and instead he or she has been dismissed by the letter writer as a “do-gooder” who is only doing it to gain some recognition. An enormous amount of work would have gone into organising this venture and it would all have been done voluntarily. Thank you and well done from me whoever you are.

Perhaps saddest of all is the writer’s comment that, “money doesn’t always compensate for a life” – if this contemptuous person had ever lost someone very dear to her she would surely know that no amount of money could EVER compensate for a life.

I sincerely hope that our visitors will gain some enjoyment from their short holidays away from the horrors they have experienced.

At the very least I hope they will be able to take some comfort from knowing that the majority of people in Falmouth do really care and want to help in any way we can.

The writer describes herself as “a good old Cornish woman”. “Old” and “Cornish” she may be – “Good” she is not! If the comments in her letter are anything to go by, a more fitting description would be, “a mean spirited, miserable old goat” (actually that’s an insult to goats who I believe are thoroughly charming creatures!!)

Name and address supplied

I was saddened by Pauline O’Brien’s letter (No Free Holidays) in last week’s Packet. In contrast, I am proud of the “Cornwall Hugs Grenfell” initiative. I agree with her that times are also hard for the people of Falmouth but would point out that this is part of the continuum of lack of care of successive governments in promoting discredited policies of austerity and privatisation of public services.

For the former residents of Grenfell, local government and corporate neglect resulted in the burning, then death, of relatives and friends and the total destruction of homes and possessions.

This shows us that big changes must happen in the way our country is run.

Despite hard times, Cornish families (including my own) have previously offered kindness and hospitality to those in need – to Basque children fleeing the Spanish Civil War, to the Kindertransport children fleeing genocide and evacuees fleeing bombing in British cities in World War II.

My parents organised locally for the Children’s Country Holiday initiative in 1970s and 80s and let’s not forget all the amazing local families today who foster and provide respite for children in need.

My son and daughter-in-law, who live close to Grenfell Tower, volunteered to sort the piles of donations well wishers sent to the residents in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, before anyone in authority provided support.

This is what communities do when disasters occur.

We support each other in whatever small way we can. This is what we have in common with people all over the world. It strengthens us all and makes us resilient enough to demand and fight for positive change.

Well done, and thank you to all who have participated in this fantastic initiative.

Susan Colenso

Falmouth

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