Marketing graduate Grace Millane

How Essex builder’s daughter Grace Millane grew up in loving close-knit family and became a fun-loving marketing student before her ambition to travel the world ended in horror

  • Grace Millane was a young university graduate with the world at her feet 
  • The 22-year-old dedicated her spare time to helping charities close to her heart 
  • She was excited to see the world after graduating from the University of Lincoln

Grace Millane (pictured) was on a round-the-world trip when she died on the eve of her 22nd birthday

British backpacker Grace Millane was a young woman with the world at her feet. 

The loving daughter of a close-knit family, Grace often posted pictures with her parents and big brothers on social media and dedicated her spare time to helping charities close to her heart. 

She had saved her money to pay for a round-the-world trip after studying hard for three years and graduating from the University of Lincoln with a Bachelor’s degree. 

But she was killed on the eve of her 22nd birthday, by a man whose identity remains protected. 

Grace Emmie Rose Millane, from Wickford in Essex, had graduated with a degree in advertising and marketing. 

Before she travelled abroad, she had cut off her long hair and donated it to the Little Princess Trust, which makes wigs for children who have lost their hair because of cancer.

As they laid her to rest, Ms Millane’s family asked for any donations to be made to charities close to her heart – The Little Princess Trust, White Ribbon UK, Mutts in Distress and Smile Train. 

In October 2018, Grace waved goodbye to her family as she embarked on a world tour. 

She was just six weeks into it when her life was cruelly cut short.

She had spent six weeks in South America taking in Chile and Peru, visiting numerous places that her mother, Gillian Millane, herself visited as a young woman.

Grace then arrived in New Zealand on 20 November 2018 and travelling around the upper North Island, keeping her two older brothers and parents up to date with photos and messages.

She arrived in Auckland on 30 November – two days before she was murdered.  

Her family said the ‘beautiful’ 22-year-old had a ‘passion to see the world’ and had been planning a second long-haul trip to Asia. 

In October 2018, Grace waved goodbye to her family as she embarked on a world tour

Grace with her mother Gillian. Mrs Millane wept as the jurors found a 27-year-old man guilty of killing her daughter 

The pretty 22-year-old pictured with her brothers at a wedding in 2014 

Grace’s mother Gillian is recovering from a breast cancer operation, which stopped her from flying to New Zealand to join the search for her daughter’s body. Grace posted this heartwrenching picture of her in September 2011, captioning it, ‘Me and Mummy Millane’

Grace’s parents sat through the entire three-week trial where their daughter’s killer told lie after lie, which the jury saw through


Left, Grace in April 2017. Right, Adventure-loving Grace is pictured here in September 2016, in front of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge

Grace with her brothers, parents and sister-in-law. And outside court, a tearful Mr Millane said: ‘Grace was a beautiful, talented, loving daughter. Grace was our sunshine and she will be missed forever’

Declan Millane posted this photo after his little sister’s death. He wrote: ‘You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away’


 A 27-year-old man, whose identity is also protected, denied murdering Ms Millane (left and right) on December 1 last year, the night before her 22nd birthday

Grace was killed in the early hours of December 2, 2018 and her family filed a missing person’s report with New Zealand police on December 5. 

Her killer was contacted because he left a comment on one of Ms Millane’s Facebook photos. 

She leaves behind her mother and father Gillian and David, and big brothers Michael, 29, and Declan, 26.  

Her mother Gillian was recovering from a breast cancer operation and unable to join the hunt for their daughter’s body in New Zealand because of the procedure.

Talking about Ms Millane’s trip, her family said her travels started with five weeks in Peru and then a trek to Machu Picchu.

The local chocolate factories were also something Ms Millane was excited by.

From New Zealand, she was intending to go to Fiji, then Australia before returning to Britain on June 26, 2019. 

Her father David, 60, said in an interview that he hoped his daughter’s death would ‘not deter even one person from venturing out into the world’.

Mr Millane added: ‘We all fly the nest. Her death should not deter any man or woman from following their dreams.’ 

Mr Millane runs a family construction business with Miss Millane’s brothers, Michael and Declan. 

In an emotional tribute after her death, Grace’s big brother Declan posted a heartfelt note to his sister, quoting the words of a famous 1940 song by Jimmie Davis.

‘You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away.’  

Grace’s mother sobbed today as the man who ‘ripped their lives apart’ when he throttled her to death and after a Tinder date was found guilty of murder following a harrowing trial 11,000 miles from the UK in New Zealand

Grace had graduated with a degree in advertising and marketing just before her trip 

Declan Millane, (pictured) wrote out the lyrics to You Are My Sunshine in a heartfelt tribute to his sister

Grace with her brothers Michael and Declan, who have raised thousands for charities including the White Ribbon Charity, in the wake of her death 

Grace’s brothers bravely fought back tears as they carried her coffin 

Her father David, 60, said in an interview that he hoped his daughter’s death would ‘not deter even one person from venturing out into the world’

Grace had spent six weeks in South America and Peru, before arriving in New Zealand on 20 November 2018. She is pictured here at the Inca Trail on November 3, 2018

Little Grace with her big brothers Michael and Declan. In an emotional tribute after her death, Declan posted a heartfelt note to his sister, quoting the words of a famous 1940 song by Jimmie Davis

Grace Emmie Rose Millane, from Wickford in Essex, had a ‘passion to see the world’

Grace’s brothers Michael and Declan, have raised thousands for charities in the wake of her death.

Her brother Declan is a fierce campaigner for the White Ribbon Charity, a global movement which seeks to end male violence against women. 

In October, Grace’s family and friends filled donated handbags with essential and luxury items and gave them to homeless women in refuges in a bid to help victims of domestic abuse.  

Her cousin Hannah O’Callaghan said the family had wanted to do something in her name to ‘give her a legacy’.

The order of service for the funeral with a family picture and at the top a tribute to their beloved sister, daughter and friend Grace Millane, reading,’You are our sunshine’


Grace’s funeral took place in her Essex hometown in January this year 

Grace was from a tight knit family and often posted pictures with her big brothers – including this one where they took the mickey out of one another in the caption 

Speaking outside court, his voice breaking with emotion, David Millane broke down as he remembered Grace as a ‘beautiful, loving, talented daughter’


In 2016, the 22-year-old enjoyed a trip to America – taking in Boston City (left) and the Grand Canyon (right)

She said the idea started out when they saw a social media post about filling a handbag with items for homeless women.

Mrs O’Callaghan, 37, said: ‘We thought it was a great idea and thought ‘how could we do something similar in Grace’s name?’ It helps that Grace loved a handbag.’

More than 500 bags were donated to the campaign, called Love Grace x, exceeding the family’s initial target of 50. 

Mrs O’Callaghan said: ‘It has been extremely difficult as a family and doing something like this is helping us get together, giving us something to focus on and it is helping others, which is all we can hope to achieve out of what we have been through.’

The appeal continues to be inundated with donations and there are four collection points for Love Grace x across Essex at Club Kingswood in Basildon, The Fox and Hounds Pub in Ramsden Heath, The Pyramid Centre in Thurrock and Hemming Too Stores in Ramsden Bellhouse.

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