A year ago on Saturday my mum, the Guardian writer Michele Hanson, died of a massive spontaneous cerebral haemorrhage, while doing what she loved most – walking Joey, her boxer dog. Her dog featured in her Guardian column spanning 30 years, a column that started with me, about Treasure, the teenage terror.
She wrote to turn something awful into something funny. I was awful and it was very funny. On top of me being awful she received lots of criticism for her awful single parenting. However, 25 years later, she was still writing, just not about me, as I was no longer awful. I had realised how witty, sharp and compassionate my mother was. Just in time. What a relief that the last thing I sent her was a joke about constipation. I have spent the last year working out what to do with the dogs and tortoise, and going through 40 years of writing and music with no family but some wonderful friends.
One friend set up a JustGiving fund, which raised £21,000, with a significant amount generously donated by Ronnie Wood. I’ve used the money to fund sanitation units, women’s projects and playgrounds in Africa for my charity smallstepsproject.org, of which my mum was trustee. This week I went to see the prefab container that we have turned into a girls’ dorm and bathroom for girls rescued in Kenya, to protect them from FGM, child marriage and abuse.
The week after mum died she was featured in the papers every day. I knew my mum was the best and I loved her writing but I didn’t realise so many people felt the same way. She would have been thrilled to have been raising money, being published all over the papers and finally even “trendy”, aka trending on Twitter. So to all her readers who have sent letters and messages, and who donated to the fund: thank you for filling my broken heart with such love.
CEO, Small Steps Project
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