Family's relief as son escapes tsunami
By Benedict O'ConnorTHE family of an East Anglian man who proposed to his girlfriend the night before they were embroiled in the tsunami disaster have spoken of their huge relief that he is alive and well.
By Benedict O'Connor
THE family of an East Anglian man who proposed to his girlfriend the night before they were embroiled in the tsunami disaster have spoken of their huge relief that he is alive and well.
Matt Vaughan-Williams, 23, from Bury St Edmunds, was holidaying on a remote island in the Maldives and had just proposed to his fiancée Vicky when the devastating natural disaster struck.
As the tidal wave swept through their beach bungalow, the couple were carried along in the current, but managed to make it to a safe spot in the centre of the island, from where he managed to get a message to their loved ones within hours of the catastrophe.
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Matt's grandfather John, also from Bury St Edmunds, said: "They had just got engaged and then between nine and 10 the next morning Matt looked out of their bungalow and he saw the darkness falling and he realised it was a huge wave.
"He shouted to Vicky to run out the back of the house, but the wave smashed through and they were washed out the back with their belongings and everything swirling around in the water.
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"They managed to get to the main building in the centre of the island and they were stuck there until the next afternoon, when they were rescued."
He added Matt and his fiancée were both fit and well and had managed to make a short three-minute phone call through the one line that was available from the Maldives to reassure their families.
"It was a tremendous relief, you can't imagine what it was like and we were so worried about him," said Mr Vaughan-Williams.
His grandson, who lost all his belongings in the tidal wave, is expected to return to England within the next few days.
Meanwhile, pledges have continued to pour in from generous businesses throughout Bury St Edmunds for the victims of the earthquake.
Star Chamber owner Peter Davies, who co-ordinated the appeal, said almost £5,000 had been raised from companies in the town.
"We are delighted with the amount raised and the response we have had from businesses in Bury. I have even had individual members of staff in shops coming up to me and donating money," he added.