Family’s appeal after tragedy

Sonia Garrett set up a lunch club in The Gambia SUS-181004-121713001
Sonia Garrett set up a lunch club in The Gambia SUS-181004-121713001

The family of an Eastbourne woman, who died in The Gambia after starting a lunch club, are fundraising to continue the project she set up.

Sonia Garrett would visit The Gambia around three times a year and stay for several weeks.

She suffered from a number of illnesses including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and found being in The Gambia helped with her breathing.

Her brother Simon Gillespie told the Herald Sonia, 48, loved The Gambia and the people.

He said, “She called them her second family and she just loved being there.”

Tragically, Sonia flew out as usual in January but died on February 23 – just two days after becoming engaged to her partner who lives in The Gambia.

Nearly five years ago Sonia set up a lunch club to help local people.

Simon said, “After making friends out there, Sonia soon realised that the vast majority of the people she met relied heavily on money from tourism in order to survive.

“She desperately wanted to do something to help so she decided to create a local club where people could come and enjoy a good lunch for free. This proved to be extremely popular.

“Funded purely by herself, she has continued to provide lunch as well as other much needed items, such as clothing, for the last four or five years with the club growing larger every year.”

Now, Simon and the rest of Sonia’s family want to keep the project going in her memory.

Simon said, “We have set a target of £2,500 and the idea is that every time the target is reached, we will travel to Banjul, The Gambia, and carry on with Sonia’s work.”

People are urged to get in touch with any offers of help and make donations via the Gambian Luncheon Club Facebook page.