Joan Laurance, founder of the Family Holiday Association, dies aged 98

Laurance and her husband Patrick established the charity in 1975 to provide breaks for families struggling with a variety of issues

Joan Laurance
Joan Laurance

Joan Laurance, founder of the Family Holiday Association, has died at the age of 98.

Laurance and her husband Patrick set up the charity in 1975 to provide short breaks for families struggling with issues such as disability, domestic violence and bereavement.

It has since enabled 50,000 families to have day trips or a few nights away from home.

The association employs 14 people and generated income of £1.4m in the financial year ending 31 August 2018, according to its latest annual report. Virtually all of its income is from voluntary donations.

Alison Rice, a long-standing trustee of the association and a former chair, said: "I have no doubt that everyone who met Joan thought she was a remarkable woman. I certainly did. Her selflessness and steadfast resolve will continue to be an inspiration to us all as we continue her legacy.

"Rather than complain about the lack of breaks available to struggling families, Joan and her husband Patrick turned their outrage into solid action, and it’s thanks to them both that we can be proud of how many families we’ve helped since 1975.

"The thoughts of everyone at the charity are with Joan’s family at this difficult time. We offer them our deepest sympathies."

Joan and Patrick, who died in 2008, set up the charity after struggling to cope with the loss of a daughter who died aged just three months.

They also had a three-year-old daughter and were trying to get back on their feet after Patrick had lost his job.

When they finally had the opportunity of a short break in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, it prompted them to take action to help others facing similar adversity.

They stepped back from the day-to-day running of the charity in the mid-1990s, but Joan continued to attend board meetings until her mid-90s.

Joan, who died on 23 February, was also an honorary life member of the British Red Cross, for which she worked for more than 30 years.

She was also a Samaritan and was awarded the British Empire Medal in 1986.

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