A home-grown charity manned by a dedicated team of volunteers has helped ease the pain of a Puni mother grieving the loss of her beloved husband. On February 23 last year, Debra Hawley lost the love of her life. Her husband and partner of 30 years, and the devoted father to his children, Jodi, Alex and Mikaela, died suddenly in the night.
Ross Hawley’s heart simply stopped beating. Tragically, Debra woke to him taking his last breath. Alex, then 14, desperately tried to revive his dad, while Debra frantically dialed emergency services, but there was nothing they could do – Ross, 67, had gone.
On learning of the Hawley family’s terrible loss, the Franklin Silver Lining Trust stepped in to help alleviate some of their grief. The Franklin Silver Lining Trust provides time-out, family respite, grants special wishes and support families in the community facing a wide range of adversities, including losing a loved one. Its gift to the Hawleys was to contribute to their journey to Tonga last year, to visit Ross’ daughter Jodi, who runs a beach resort and whale watching tours on an island with her partner. The holiday brought the Hawley siblings together to grieve. ‘‘It was a huge step forward in their recovery and for that I’m greatly indebted to the trust,’’ Debra said. ‘‘It was amazing and we all felt quite honoured to have been nominated and to have been thought of during this very difficult time. ‘‘To be honest, I have seen and heard the stories of other recipients, who I felt really needed it more than us. I felt very privileged and humbled. So to be nominated was incredible.’’
The trust also sent Debra on a women’s retreat – an escape from her daily routine, which she said was just what the doctor ordered. ‘‘It was so nice to take time out for myself, with like-minded women, in a tranquil environment.’’ Debra said she was proud of how well Alex and Mikaela were finding their way since losing their dad. ‘They are both doing remarkably well. ‘‘The year could have turned to custard, but Ross was such a great dad – he had old school morals, values and inner-strength which he has imparted to them, enabling them to adjust to our new circumstances.’’ Debra credits her strength to a tight group of friends, family and her Christian faith. She’s also kept incredibly busy with the kids’ activities and supporting them, whilst running her own business. ‘‘We are all doing really well,’’ she said, ‘‘and I know Ross would be very proud of us.’’