Lloyd and Suzanne Clarke, parents to Hannah Clarke, attend a vigil to remember murdered mother, Hannah Clarke and her three children at Bill Hewitt Reserve in Camp Hill Picture: Jono Searle/Getty Images
Lloyd and Suzanne Clarke, parents to Hannah Clarke, attend a vigil to remember murdered mother, Hannah Clarke and her three children at Bill Hewitt Reserve in Camp Hill Picture: Jono Searle/Getty Images

'Hardest week of our lives': Hannah's family speak

MORE than 1000 people have gathered at a vigil to pay tribute to Brisbane mother Hannah Clarke and her three children, who died in a horrific car fire at Camp Hill on Wednesday.

Hannah and her three children Aaliyah, 6, Laianah, 4 and Trey, 3, were burnt alive in a car fire at Camp Hill on Wednesday which was deliberately lit by her estranged husband Rowan Baxter. He stabbed himself in the chest and also died at the horrific scene.

The vigil, held at Whites Hill State College in Camp Hill where Hannah went to school, just down the road from her parent's house, was attended by a large cross-section of the community who came together to remember the brave mother.

 

 

The vigil was attended by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who said the whole country was with the Clarke family at this time.

"You have my deepest sympathies, as you have the sympathies of Brisbane and all of Australia," she said.

Hannah's parents, Lloyd and Suzanne Clarke, were bravely seated at the front row - alongside the Premier and Police commissioner Katarina Carroll - Suzanne sobbing, joined in tears by most of the thousands of others who attended in support.

They were joined by Mayor Adrian Schrinner and opposition leader Deb Frecklington countless emergency personnel and thousands from across the community.

Crowds at the vigil for Hannah Clarke and her children at Whites Hill State College. Picture: 7 News Brisbane
Crowds at the vigil for Hannah Clarke and her children at Whites Hill State College. Picture: 7 News Brisbane

 

Mr Clarke and Hannah's brother Nathaniel showed immense courage, putting on brave faces and addressing the crowd.

"It seemed impossible to go on," Lloyd Clarke said.

He thanked the kindness of his friends, families and even strangers for helping him gather strength.

"I may not know you all but to embrace our family when our whole world has collapse... our family are eternally grateful," he said.

Nathaniel's hand was on his father's shoulder as Lloyd said to the crowd 'you have restored our faith that there are many good and decent people in this world.'


Hannah's brother Nathaniel spoke of hopelessness and also of Hannah's constant care.

"You wouldn't know looking at her what she was going through," he said.

"She was always more interested in you.

"When something like this happens to something like that you lose a little faith.

"That night driving home, I thought the world was so cold and dark.

"We didn't think there would be any hope anywhere.

"But the love and support and everything that's come in made you realise that this world isn't dark.

"For every dark horrible person there's a million more people who are willing to love and care."

He said the tragedy was a reason to reconnect, ask how they are... and show them that you love them.

"That's all (Hannah and her children) ever wanted to do," he said.

It was announced that the Lord Mayor's charitable trust will be establishing the charity Small steps for Hannah to assist other families - in honour of Hannah and her children.

In the full statement, Lloyd Clarke said the family had been overwhelmed by the number of people "who have gone out of their way to offer their support and to help us try to navigate through the hardest week of our lives".

"At times when it has seemed impossible to go on, we have drawn on the strength of our friends and family but also the many strangers who have shown such kindness and reached out to us during this difficult time.

"I would like to thank Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner and the Brisbane City Council for bringing us all together and arranging this memorial for Hannah and our grandchildren.

"I am sure that in the future, it will become somewhere we can visit and sit quietly to reflect on the joy that Hannah and her children brought into our lives.

"Because in the future, that is what we want to remember, the love, the laughter and the joy.

"I would also like to thank Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk for being here to support us, as well as all the members of our local community.

"We may not know you all, but you embraced our family when our whole world collapsed and for that we are genuinely grateful.

"While dealing with this truly difficult time, my family and I are forever thankful to our neighbours and those who were first on the scene who tried to desperately help Hannah and the children.

"You selflessly and without hesitation did what you could to save them. I don't know how we can repay such kindness, other than to say we will be eternally grateful. You have restored out faith that there are many good and decent people in the world.

"Lastly, we would like to thank the members of the Queensland Police Service, who have gone above and beyond for our family.

"At all times they have treated us with compassion, patience and respect. Whether it was a shoulder to cry on, to answer our many questions or to help us navigate this difficult time which nothing could have prepared us for.

Hannah Clarke, pictured with her son Trey, succumbed to her injuries and died in hospital early on Wednesday evening.
Hannah Clarke, pictured with her son Trey, succumbed to her injuries and died in hospital early on Wednesday evening.

 

"We would have felt lost without your support.

"We are so proud of what our beautiful daughter Hannah achieved in her life and will never forget the joy our grandchildren bought to our lives every day.

"They will not be forgotten as your love and support will also never be forgotten."

One of Hannah's best friends said goodbye to "the most beautiful, loyal passionate and brave woman and mother I know".

"Life will never be the same without you here," she said bursting into tears.

"A strong man keeps it together,'"

Social media was flooded in the hours and days after the tragedy, with tributes for the Brisbane mother "so incredibly full of life, energy and laughter".

Hannah attended Whites Hill State College, where the vigil was held, just down the road from her parent's house.

Aaliyah, Trey and Laianah all died in the car fire on Wednesday that was deliberately lit by their father.
Aaliyah, Trey and Laianah all died in the car fire on Wednesday that was deliberately lit by their father.

A woman who attended the college and was babysat by Mrs Baxter said last week she was "beautiful on the inside and out".

"Beautiful, you can't say anything more than beautiful," she said.

"She was happy go lucky, always had a smile on her face with beautiful white teeth."

So You Think You Can Dance 2008 winner Jack Chambers, who was co-captain at Whites Hill State College with Hannah, posted a moving tribute on Facebook this morning.

"Such heartbreaking news yesterday. A monstrous crime that makes you sick to your stomach!!! Hannah and I were school captains back in our last year of school, 15 yrs ago. That would be the last time I had actually seen or spoken to Hannah Clarke - so while I didn't know her in our adult life, I will always remember her as the kind, strong and driven teenager she was. If you want to show your support to the Clarke family, you can donate below," he posted.

Hannah's sister-in-law, Stacey Roberts, set up a fundraising page for funeral costs and to support Hannah's parents, Sue and Lloyd Clarke, who she said "have exhausted themselves to try and help Hannah escape this monster".

As of 5pm on Sunday, when the vigil began, the page had raised more than $221,000.


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