New start for MP's family

The wife of a Norfolk MP and her family have moved permanently to the county to make a new start as they all battle back from a devastating year in which her mother was killed in a bus crash.

The wife of a Norfolk MP and her family have moved permanently to the county to make a new start as they all battle back from a devastating year in which her mother was killed in a bus crash.

South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon and his wife, Victoria, had been celebrating the birth of their first child when her mother was killed and twin sister seriously injured. The tragedy occurred as they walked down a London street together and were struck by a bus.

And the couple, and Mrs Bacon's identical sister, Sarah Hope, have told for the first time how the family was finding strength and comfort by settling in Norfolk, where they will be living just a few minutes away from each other.

A 36-year-old former BBC television news producer, Mrs Bacon met her husband in Bournemouth at the Conservative Party conference in 2004. The couple married in January 2006 and in April 2007 welcomed their first child, Rollo, into the world.

But their joy turned to tragedy, when her mother, Elizabeth Panton, 65, was killed in a bus crash just two days later.

At a time when the couple should have been happily preoccupied with becoming new parents, they were thrown into a nightmare.

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Cradling 13-month-old Rollo at the family home in Pulham St Mary, Mrs Bacon said: “Richard told me that mum had died. I was obviously upset but then he said he had to talk to me about Sarah and told me she was in hospital. When you've just heard about your mother, to be told that... it's just a feeling you can't even describe. It's so terrifying.

“And then I just thought about Rollo, about having this little baby and I went into the bedroom and I just looked at him and told Rollo to look after me. And I really believe he has looked after me. He has been such a good child, so cheerful and so loving.”

Her sister, who is married to Daily Telegraph home affairs correspondent Christopher Hope, was in hospital for three weeks and needed plastic surgery on the bottom half of her left leg because the damage to her skin and tissue was so bad.

Last month the two sisters were invited for tea at Downing Street with Sarah Brown after Mrs Bacon was shortlisted in the final of The Sun Wondermum awards.

“If anybody deserves a mum of the year award it's my sister, Sarah. I couldn't have done it on my own without her. I felt very humbled meeting all these mums who had done something, because all I did was just what my mother would have done. Sarah, at the time, took Rollo on board and me on board, as I was trying to learn to be a new mum,” she said.

Both sisters have great admiration for the way each other has coped with the tragedy and it is no surprise they have drawn strength from the closeness of their relationship.

Now the sisters will be even closer, as the Hopes have decided to leave London and have bought a home in Harleston. And their father and brother will be joining them in July as they have also bought a house in the town.

Mr Bacon said: “It is only by being together and spending a lot of time together that we have helped each other through it all. I have been in Pulham since I bought the house seven years ago and Sarah's family are only going to be five minutes away.

“They have been staying with us for the last three months, and now Victoria's brother and father are moving to Norfolk too.

“Sarah's three children and Rollo will be growing up together and it will be just great - like one big extended family.”

Mrs Bacon, who previously divided her time between Norfolk and London, said her husband had been tremendously supportive, as had his constituents.

“People in Norfolk have been very, very kind - otherwise we wouldn't have moved up here and I wouldn't be here feeling like its home and a new start for us all.”