Edition 1505
15 December 2018
Edition: 1505

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Parents of British girl who died on France school trip create Algarve ‘B Breaks’ to help others

by Carrie-Marie Bratley, in News · 15-11-2018 10:23:00 · 0 Comments

The parents of British schoolgirl Jessica Lawson, whose tragic death on a school trip to France three years ago still makes headlines across the UK, are in the process of launching bereavement breaks – or ‘B Breaks’ – to the Algarve, in a bid to help other parents grappling with the life-shattering trauma of losing a child.

Parents of British girl who died on France school trip create Algarve ‘B Breaks’ to help others

In July 2015, Tony and Brenda Lawson, from East Yorkshire, waved their then 12-year-old daughter Jessica off on a school trip to France.
Three days in, they received the tragic news that Jessica had been involved in a serious swimming accident and was being taken to hospital. Heartbreakingly, she died before her parents reached her side.
Three years on, the Lawsons are still fighting to perforate the “wall of silence” that they claim surrounds the circumstances leading to the death of their daughter, who would have turned 16 last Wednesday, on 7 November.
Due to their very specific circumstances, the couple feel they have slipped through the cracks of a seemingly flawed system that provides little to no support to parents in situations like theirs, having spent much of the past three years feeling “abandoned” and “isolated”, and feeling let down by the authorities the couple believed would support them.
As investigations are ongoing in France, the couple eventually retreated to Portugal where, in the Algarve, they have found the solace and strength they need to obtain a semblance of direction.
The Lawsons, who recently established The Essence Tree gift shop in Silves, are now focussing on providing support to other grief-stricken families through customised ‘B Breaks’.
“The idea of the breaks is that they offer an opportunity for bereaved parents to take a well-earned holiday like anyone else, but safe in the knowledge that those organising it, together with them, can fully understand their difficulties, emotions and anxieties”, Brenda told The Portugal News.
The couple is currently reaching out for partners in the Algarve, who could help expand their fledgling network of properties and activities, to provide bereavement breaks tailored to the individual needs of each family. They are hoping to enlist holiday-home owners who would be happy to concede their property for a reduced fee, or better still waive the fee, to accommodate the families, and activity-providers to offer discounts on things to do while in the Algarve, should the families choose to do so.
The Lawsons specifically want to offer the packages in the Algarve’s low-season when it is at its most peaceful, but also to go some way towards helping the region through its quietest months.
B Breaks last week welcomed their first parents, Les and Dot Daly, whose son Glen was killed in a hit-and-run in Crete nine years ago while on holiday with a friend.
“Losing a child is every parent’s nightmare, for us a nightmare that is still ongoing, it still doesn’t seem real to us”, the Dalys told The Portugal News, with Dot adding: “The B Break is what Les and I needed, even if it was for a short stay”.
Dot explained that it provided the chance for “tranquillity for the mind, even for a little while, which is what Les and I needed; something we haven’t had for a long time”.
During their stay in the Algarve the couple were accommodated in an apartment in Tavira, whose owners were the first to join the project, and discovered many of the Algarve’s delights through an itinerary put together by B Breaks.
“If other families only tried it, it would be an opportunity for them just to spend quality time as a couple or a family”, Dot emphasised, and reflected: “It is beautiful what Brenda and Tony are doing in Jessica’s memory.
“Despite them going through their own bereavement of their beautiful daughter Jessica, Brenda and Tony made us very welcome, they both wanted us to have an enjoyable four days, and that is certainly what we had. Les and I have already started to talk about going back next year”.
For more information on B Breaks, see The Jessica Lawson Foundation website:www.jessicalawson
foundation.org, email: jlfoundation17@gmail.com, or call: (+351) 964 388 077 / (+44) 7538 531 669.

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Edition 1505
15 December 2018
Edition: 1505

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

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